x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Muslim Brotherhood asks EU to broker Egypt talks

The Muslim Brotherhood says it has made tentative moves towards using the European Union as a conduit for talks with Egypt's new leaders. Alice Fordham reports from Cairo

Both the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition movement that toppled Mohammed Morsi, pictured in this banner, have called for more rallies today.
Both the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition movement that toppled Mohammed Morsi, pictured in this banner, have called for more rallies today.

CAIRO // The Muslim Brotherhood said yesterday that it had made tentative moves towards using the European Union as a conduit for talks with Egypt’s new leaders.

Gehad El Haddad, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, said that the proposal was made before the EU’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for talks with political groups.

An EU envoy said the bloc was not playing the role of mediator, while Mr El Haddad cautioned that no more than a framework was in place.

“What we have been doing is to explore openers, to see what is the room for starting something,” said the EU representative, Leon Bernadino.

Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour yesterday gave his first televised address to the nation since his inauguration on July 4.
"We are going through a critical stage and some want us to move towards chaos and we want to move towards stability. Some want a bloody path," said Mr Mansour.

"We will fight a battle for security until the end."

The military also issued a stern warning to protesters yesterday, saying violence would not be tolerated. The military statement said that “whoever resorts to violence and deviates from peacefulness in Friday’s rallies will put his life in danger”.

Ms Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, met leaders of the interim government on Wednesday, appointed since the military removed the Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, this month.

Both the Brotherhood and opposition movement that toppled Mr Morsi have called for rallies today.

After speaking with the new president, Adly Mansour, and the chief of the military, Gen Abdel Fattah El Sisi, she called for a quick return to the democratic process and a “full, inclusive process”, according to her spokesman.

Up until now, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party and other Islamist politicians have refused to join the new government, calling the removal of the president a coup. Ms Ashton was unable to meet Mr Morsi, although she did meet senior Brotherhood leaders.

The Brotherhood has said it had not met with members of the new, military-headed authorities until now.

Mr El Haddad insisted yesterday that Mr Morsi’s reinstatement was a condition for talks to commence between the Brotherhood and the government. But an EU representative said that the two sides were still far apart and entrenched in their respective positions.

Ms Ashton also met with the officials of the Tamarod, or Rebel, movement, which provided much of the impetus behind the protests that felled Mr Morsi this month. They told her that the fall of Mr Morsi was a popular uprising.

Tamarod called on its Facebook page for demonstrations to be held today under the slogan “the people against terrorism”.

Blaming recent violence on the largely Islamist supporters of Mr Morsi, who has been held in an undisclosed location by the army since July 3, the movement called for gatherings in Tahrir Square in Cairo as well as across the country.

The marches would, they said, also commemorate the 1973 war with Israel.

Islamists staging a sit-in of thousands of people in Cairo’s Nasr City area have also vowed continuing protests.

This week, a group called “Students Against Coup” announced its existence at the Rabaa Al Adawiya mosque, where the sit-in is gathered.

afordham@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Reuters and Agence France-Presse

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