Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president yesterday called for new protests, threatening to deepen the country’s crisis as the EU’s foreign policy chief held talks with the government and opposition.
The Anti-Coup Alliance of Islamist groups organizing protests against the ouster of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi urged demonstrators to march on security buildings last night and called for a million-man march today.
Their statement came after the National Defense Council warned on Sunday that it would take “decisive and firm action” against demonstrators if they exceeded “their rights to peaceful, responsible expression of their opinions.”
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 last night “to condemn the criminal acts and the firing of live ammunition by the interior ministry at peaceful demonstrators.”
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.”
With tensions rising, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton was due to hold discussions with a range of government and opposition figures.
Shortly after her arrival on Sunday she met Egyptian Vice President for International Affairs Mohamed ElBaradei, his office said.
“ElBaradei stressed that Egyptian authorities are doing everything possible to achieve a peaceful way out of the crisis,” a statement said.
Ashton was to meet ElBaradei again after talks with other officials, including interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour, representatives of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Tamarod group that organized protests calling for Morsi’s ouster.
Yesterday morning, she met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, who emphasised “the importance of reconciliation and the participation of all political powers” in a road map announced after Morsi’s ouster, his spokesman said.
In an earlier 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, said it would meet with Ashton 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 has sparked mounting international concern, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday warning Egypt’s interim leadership 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,” condemned the violence and called on the authorities to protect “all Egyptians, regardless of party affiliation,” UN spokeswoman Morana Song said.