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Morsi supporters call for new protests

29 July 2013, 13:01

Cairo - Supporters of Egypt's ousted president called for new protests on Monday, threatening to deepen the country's crisis as the EU foreign policy chief held talks with the government and opposition.

The Anti-Coup Alliance of Islamist groups organising protests against the ouster of president Mohammed Morsi urged demonstrators to march on security buildings on Monday night and called a million-man march for Tuesday.

Their statement came after the National Defence Council warned on Sunday that it would take "decisive and firm action" against demonstrators if they went beyond their right to peaceful protest.

Tensions were running high after the deaths of 72 people at a pro-Morsi rally in Cairo on Saturday.

"We... call for a million person march under the banner of 'Martyrs of the Coup' on Tuesday," the Anti-Coup Alliance said in a statement.

The group urged Egyptians "to go out into the streets and squares, to regain their freedom and dignity - that are being usurped by the bloody coup - and for the rights of the martyrs assassinated by its bullets".

It also called for protesters to march on security buildings across Egypt on Monday night "to condemn the criminal acts and the firing of live ammunition by the interior ministry at peaceful demonstrators."

The calls raised the possibility of fresh confrontations after the National Defence Council warned protesters "not to exceed their rights to peaceful, responsible expression of their opinions".

The council, which includes the military-installed interim president and the army chief, said demonstrators would face "decisive and firm decisions and actions in response to any violations."

A fully inclusive transition

With tensions rising, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was due to hold discussions with a range of government and opposition figures.

She was expected to meet interim president Adly Mansour and vice president for international affairs Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and the Tamarod group that organised protests calling for his ouster.

In a statement, Ashton said she would be calling for "a fully inclusive transition... including the Muslim Brotherhood".

"I will also repeat my call to end all violence. I deeply deplore the loss of life," she said.

The Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, confirmed it would meet with Ashton on Monday on the basis of "constitutional legitimacy and in pursuit of an end to the military coup".

The group has insisted that it will not accept any solution to the crisis that does not involve Morsi's return to office.

The bloodshed in the Arab world's most populous nation has sparked mounting international concern, with the UN leader Ban Ki-moon warning Egypt's interim leadership on Sunday that every death made it harder to end the crisis.

Ban "expressed his profound concern about the direction in which the transition in Egypt is moving" and condemned the heightened violence, UN spokesperson Morana Song said.

He called on the authorities to protect "all Egyptians, regardless of party affiliation", Song added.

Terror-originating spot

In its first comments on the bloodshed, Egypt's interim presidency said on Sunday that it was "saddened", but dubbed the protest area where the deaths occurred a "terror-originating spot".

"We cannot decouple this [incident] from the context of terrorism," presidential adviser Moustafa Hegazy told reporters.

Morsi's supporters remained defiant, with thousands still camped at the Rabaa al-Adawiya protest site where the violence erupted.

A security source and the Anti-Coup Alliance said two leaders of the moderate Islamist Wasat party - president Abul Ala Mady and vice president Essam Sultan - were arrested early on Sunday.

The party is taking part in the protests calling for the reinstatement of Morsi, who has been in custody since just hours after his 3 July ouster.

Last week, he was formally charged with offences related to his escape from prison during the 2011 uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak.

In the Sinai Peninsula, where security has deteriorated rapidly since the 2011 uprising, an attack on a military post in Rafah near the border with Gaza killed one Egyptian soldier and wounded eight overnight.



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