Clashes flared for a fifth day in Egypt, killing one person, while a main opposition bloc rejected calls for dialogue with President Mohamed Mursi hours after he instituted a state of emergency in three restive provinces.
More demonstrations are expected today to mark the anniversary of the bloodiest day in the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011. About 50 people have died in clashes since Jan. 25, in what Mursi described as unacceptable attacks on civilians and state installations. Transgressors, he warned in a late-night address, would be dealt with firmly.
A second mass funeral in two days in Port Said and clashes between police firing tear gas at rock-throwing protesters in central Cairo clouded Mursi’s call for a national dialogue with the opposition. His critics say he has reneged on pledges, is intent solely on cementing Islamist rule in the nation and has failed to revive the economy. The Egyptian pound , with the currency having shed 7 percent in a month.
Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the opposition’s leaders, said Mursi’s offer for talks wasn’t objective and refused to take part in them unless conditions are met. He was joined by former presidential candidates Amre Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi in rejecting talks.
“When a president declares emergency only seven months after being in office, I think this a serious sign of his failure in running the country,” Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front bloc of opposition groups, said by phone. The NSF includes ElBaradei’s Constitution Party.
“We’re very cautious about any calls for dialogue coming from the president because all the previous calls were meaningless,” he said.
The state of emergency was to last for 30 days in the provinces of Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya. The measures were enacted after a spasm of violence since Jan. 25, the anniversary of the uprising that ousted Mubarak, and recalled memories of the frantic steps taken by the ousted leader in the waning days of his rule.