Egypt to say mediation has failed to end crisis

Tuesday 06 August 2013 21.59
Supporters of Mohammed Mursi attend a rally in Cairo
Supporters of Mohammed Mursi attend a rally in Cairo

Egypt's presidency is expected to announce that foreign mediation efforts to end the political crisis have failed, a state-run newspaper has said.

Al-Ahram newspaper, citing official sources, also reported that the presidency would declare that Muslim Brotherhood protests against the army's overthrow of president Mohammed Mursi were non-peaceful.

The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected pleas from international envoys to "swallow the reality" that Mr Mursi will not return as Egypt's president.

The envoys from the United States and the European Union visited jailed Brotherhood deputy leader Khairat El-Shater.

But he cut the meeting short, saying they should be talking to Mr Mursi, Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said.

People briefed on the meeting described it as long, in some moments intense, but constructive and useful.

From the other side, a senior military source said the army and interim government would offer to free some jailed Muslim Brotherhood members, unfreeze its assets and give it three ministerial posts, in a move to end the crisis.

A source involved in the diplomatic initiative said the releases from prison were expected within hours.

The releases would be a confidence building measure, and the Brotherhood would be expected to make goodwill gestures to show they have good intentions.

Army spokesman Ahmed Ali said no deal had been reached between the Brotherhood, the military and the government to end Egypt's political crisis.

Several thousand Islamist supporters marched through downtown Cairo calling for Mr Mursi's reinstatement and denouncing the army general who led his overthrow.

The protest showed tensions still running dangerously high in Egypt despite the mediation effort by the US, the EU, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Mursi became Egypt's first freely-elected president in June 2012, 16 months after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled for nearly 30 years.

But fears that he was trying to establish an Islamist autocracy, coupled with a failure to ease economic hardships afflicting most of Egypt's 84 million people, led to huge street demonstrations, triggering the army move.

Speaking about the talks in recent days, Brotherhood spokesman Haddad said the envoys "still carry the position that we should swallow the reality and accept that the military coup has happened and try to recover with minimum damage".

"We refuse to do so," Haddad told Mr Reuters.

There was no agreement on how to start talks, he added.