Cairo - After Egypt's worst sectarian violence in months
left seven dead the past two days, Egypt's leading opposition figure Mohamed
ElBaradei on Monday called on the Islamist president to make serious
concessions to bring the opposition into decision-making, saying national
reconciliation is the only way out of the country's myriad problems.
The violence, capped by an unprecedented mob attack on the
main cathedral of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, raised new alarm over the
escalating turmoil in the country, which has been polarised over the
administration of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and Islamists' political
The opposition has blamed months of unrest on attempts by
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which he hails, to monopolise power,
accusing them of squeezing out other voices and failing to find consensus on
major national issues, such as the controversial, Islamist-backed constitution
passed in a December referendum.
Morsi supporters say he has repeatedly invited all parties
into dialogue in the past and have accused the opposition of fuelling street
unrest to undermine the Islamists' election victories, including that of Morsi.
Morsi denounced Sunday's violence at the Cathedral, saying
he considered any attack on the cathedral as an attack against him personally.
He also ordered an immediate investigation into the violence and spoke with the
head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II.
The Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice
Party, depicted the attack as a new part of the attempts to create chaos and
On Monday, the party's secretary-general, Hussein Ibrahim,
wrote on his Facebook page comments that whoever thinks that "igniting
sectarian violence can bring down a ruling regime is mistaken. The fire of
sedition if ignited in Egypt, God forbid, will burn all".
He too called for a serious dialogue, not by "staking
out positions through satellite TV".
ElBaradei said that the opposition is not ready to enter a
dialogue with Morsi for sure and that it first wants moves to indicate he is
serious in seeking to heal rifts by meeting long-held opposition demands.
He said Morsi should appoint a new government, not packed
with Islamists but instead based on merits and able to oversee upcoming
parliamentary elections independently.
He said the opposition also demands an independent committee
write the law governing the election without giving advantage to the
Brotherhood, the country's most organized political force.
ElBaradei also said that a court order that annulled a Morsi
decree appointing the country's top prosecutor must be respected and a new
prosecutor installed to heal rifts in the judiciary and ensure trust in an
Then, he said, the two sides could hold a dialogue on bigger
national issues. "We are waiting for Morsi to understand that without
national reconciliation, Egypt will not rise," ElBaradei told a gathering
of opposition figures in a conference designed to offer solutions to Egypt's
"The state today is collapsing. It is a collapsing
state politically, economically, socially and security-wise," said
ElBaradei. "And I don't think we have long to fix this."
Attempts to seek comments from the presidency on ElBaradei's
call were not immediately successful.
Despite an earlier round of talks between ElBaradei and
members of the Brotherhood's party, the presidency has dismissed demands for
appointing a new government and has so far stayed out of the dispute over the
prosecutor. An election law is currently being reworked in the Shura Council,
Egypt's current legislative body, which is dominated by Islamists.