Egypt Camps Plan Dueling Rallies Amid Call for Unity

Supporters of toppled Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi held rallies in Cairo and other cities while the opposing camp gathered to defend his ouster.

Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood urged Egyptians to protest what it sees as a military coup against an elected president. Islamists clashed with opponents after Friday prayers today in Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque, resulting in some injuries, the state-run Middle East News Agency said.

Military jets flew over central Cairo and armored vehicles surrounded the presidential palace, where an anti-Mursi demonstration is planned. Tamarod, the youth group behind the protests that preceded the army intervention, has also called for rallies at locations including Tahrir Square, where an air force display is scheduled later today to commemorate the 1973 war with Israel.

Daily protests have roiled Egypt after Mursi’s July 3 removal, leaving dozens dead including at least 50, mostly Brotherhood supporters, killed outside an army installation in Cairo last week. The military-backed interim government is seeking to revive an economy that has stalled since longtime leader Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011.

Egyptian politics have become “a zero-sum game -- the idea of compromise doesn’t exist that much,” Omar Ashour, a senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the University of Exeter, said today by phone from London. In the absence of any credible guarantor for a deal between the sides, “the Brothers believe that their lifeline is sustaining their mobilization,” he said. “That’s the only option they have.”

‘Played Democracy’

The Brotherhood has vowed to continue protests until Mursi is restored to office and refused to cooperate with the interim government, which is due to guide Egypt to presidential elections early next year. Tens of thousands of Mursi’s supporters have been camped out in Cairo’s Nasr City district.

“We’re not the ones who called for democracy in the first place,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, a 46 year-old engineer and Brotherhood member taking part in the protest. “It was the secular bloc who did, and when we played democracy and they lost, they came up with this whole plot to gain some political advantage. We’re ready to give our lives to defend our president and our principles.”

Thousands of Mursi supporters also gathered in Alexandria and several other cities. The government hasn’t said where the ex-president, who was detained by security forces when he was removed from office, is being held.

All Egyptians

Adly Mansour, the former judiciary chief who was installed as president by the army after its intervention, urged reconciliation late yesterday and said all Egyptians would be included in the process. In a brief televised address, he said forces that he didn’t identify are seeking to push the country into violence and chaos.

Mansour presided over the swearing in of a new cabinet on July 16. Its leader, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi, said the government will convene next week and plans to discuss new economic policies and security conditions, the state-run Ahram Gate website reported yesterday.

The cabinet has yet to decide on resuming talks with the International Monetary Fund on Egypt’s bid for a $4.8 billion loan, El-Beblawi told Ahram Gate.

Yields on Egypt’s benchmark dollar bonds due in 2020 dropped five basis points to 8.44 percent today, more than 2 percentage points below their peak on the day Mursi was ousted. The main stock index was little changed yesterday and gained 1.3 percent in the week.

Jail Guarantee

The Brotherhood yesterday described Egypt’s political turbulence as a “serious nightmare” that carries the threat of civil war.

By sustaining protests against Mursi’s ouster, the group “is doing its best to press for better terms of negotiations,” Ziad Akl, a senior analyst at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said by phone.

He said the Brotherhood is probably seeking guarantees that it will be included in the political process and that its leaders won’t be jailed.

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