Egypt’s interim President Adli Mansour promised on Thursday to fight those driving the nation towards chaos, hours before the Muslim Brotherhood plans mass protests to demand the return of ousted Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi.
Brotherhood supporters have declared they will take to the streets on Friday in their campaign to reverse the military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely-elected president, but the movement also gave a first sign of willingness to negotiate with its opponents.
Mansour pledged in his first public address since he was sworn in on July 4 to restore stability and security.
“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,” he said in a televised address. “We will fight a battle for security until the end.”
The rallies aim to show that Morsi’s supporters are not ready to accept the new military-backed government. However, a Brotherhood official also told Reuters on Thursday that the movement had proposed a framework for talks mediated by the EU.
Sworn into office on Tuesday, the cabinet of interim premier Hazem el-Beblawy busied itself with tackling Egypt’s many crises, buying foreign wheat to replenish stocks and banking $3bn in badly needed aid from the United Arab Emirates.
Still stunned by the July 3 toppling of Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood, and allies grouped in what it calls the National Alliance for Legitimacy, urged the nationwide rallies on Friday, predicting millions would take to the streets.
“To every free Egyptian man and woman: Come out against the bloody military coup,” the alliance said in a statement.
Brotherhood official Gehad el-Haddad, who represented the movement in previous EU-facilitated talks with other political groups, told Reuters that the organisation would not retreat from its demand for the reinstatement of Morsi.
However, signalling for the first time a formal readiness for negotiations, he said the Brotherhood had proposed through an EU envoy a framework for talks to resolve Egypt’s crisis. “We never close the door to dialogue,” Haddad said.
The EU envoy, Bernardino Leon, said the two sides remained far apart. It is hard to imagine the army letting Morsi return to power. The military has denied orchestrating a coup, saying it intervened to prevent chaos following mammoth protests on June 30 against Morsi’s much-criticised, year-long rule.
Egypt, the most populous nation in the Arab world, is a strategic hinge between the Middle East and North Africa and has long been a vital US ally in the region.