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Egypt's Morsi proposes constitutional reform ahead of mass protests

Published time: June 26, 2013 23:51
Edited time: June 27, 2013 04:08
Mohammed Morsi addresses a conference to mark the upcoming anniversary of one year in power on June 26, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (AFP Photo / HO / Egyptian Presidency)

Mohammed Morsi addresses a conference to mark the upcoming anniversary of one year in power on June 26, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (AFP Photo / HO / Egyptian Presidency)

Speaking to a conference hall lined with cabinet ministers and officials of his Muslim Brotherhood party, President Mohamed Morsi announced an all-party committee to reform the constitution in a bid to defuse the opposition and looming mass protests.

Pledging to introduce "radical and quick" reforms into state institutions, Morsi seemed to strike a conciliatory note against vocal insurrection from the political opposition, announcing that his government would form a second committee to address “national reconciliation.”

"I stand before you as an Egyptian citizen, not as the holder of an office, who is fearful for his country,” said Morsi. He then vowed to review his first year in office, which began June 30 of 2012. Protesters have chosen to mark the upcoming anniversary with mass demonstrations aimed at the embattled leader’s resignation.

"Today, I present an audit of my first year, with full transparency, along with a road map. Some things were achieved and others not," Morsi said. "I have made mistakes on a number of issues.”

Hundreds of Egyptian anti government protesters shout political slogans against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt's landmark Tahrir square as they watch Morsi's speech protesting against government and the Muslim Brotherhood on June 26, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (AFP Photo / Gianluigi Guercia)

While acknowledging errors during his term, Morsi pointed the finger at unspecified "enemies of Egypt" for sabotaging the country’s young democratic system, which was haphazardly raised following the ouster of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. The former leader was overthrown in a popular uprising in 2011, despite decades of support from the West.

"Political polarization and conflict has reached a stage that threatens our nascent democratic experience and threatens to put the whole nation in a state of paralysis and chaos," said Morsi. "The enemies of Egypt have not spared effort in trying to sabotage the democratic experience," he added.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Wednesday for Morsi’s national address. According to Ahram Online, demonstrators carried placards bearing pro-army slogans, including “the people and the army are one hand” – a motto which was often seen during Egypt’s tumultuous 2011 uprising.

Clashes were reported in Alexandria, where supporters and opponents of Egypt’s Morsi threw rocks and fired shotguns in the early hours of Thursday during the leader’s keynote speech in Cairo. Just hours prior, at least two people were killed and over 200 wounded as hundreds clashed in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.

Hundreds of demonstrators also gathered in front of the country’s defense ministry headquarters in eastern Cairo, demanding that defense minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi take over power from President Morsi.

Opponents of Morsi’s government want him to resign and continue to call for an early election, charging that Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood are consolidating power while failing to solve Egypt's pressing problems - including a serious economic recession and a more recent fuel shortage.

An Egyptian man holds a placard as hundreds of Egyptian anti-government protesters shout political slogans against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt's landmark Tahrir square as they watch Morsi's speech protesting against government and the Muslim Brotherhood on June 26, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt (AFP Photo / Gianluigi Guercia)

Wednesday’s unrest seemed to be a harbinger of things to come. Speaking from Cairo, RT correspondent Bel Trew reported that Egyptians were preparing themselves for another wave of increased violence.

“Definitely the fear here is that violence is going to escalate. We’ve seen a number of clashes around the governorate. People are even reaching out to private security firms to secure their homes and businesses. The military released a statement this week saying that they will have to step in if violence continues.”

Comments (17)

Anonymous user 30.06.2013 22:42

the US and UK will do anything to get rid off loyal leaders who do not promote secular goverment.

Anonymous user 28.06.2013 16:01

Since the Shah, it is known that talk of reforms usually is interpreted as weakness, after protests.

Anonymous user 27.06.2013 15:53

The US/EU banksters bought Morsi. They steal from Egypt through him.

View all comments (17)
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