Egypt Army Chief Holds Overnight Talks With Opposition

Egypt's Army Chief, Abdel Fatah El Sisi
Egypt’s Army Chief, Abdel Fatah El Sisi

Egyptian Army chief Abdel Fatah El Sisi met overnight with leaders from the different Islamist movements to try and resolve the crisis pitting supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi against the country’s new rulers.

Sisi “met with several representatives of the Islamist movements … and stressed that there are opportunities for a peaceful solution to the crisis provided all sides reject violence,” army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly said in a statement on Sunday, without specifying who his interlocutors were.

Sources say the Muslim Brotherhood was not at the meeting, but other Islamists were.

Morsi supporters have been holding two major sit-ins for more than a month, paralysing parts of the capital, Cairo, and deepening divisions.

Authorities have repeatedly called for an end to sit-ins, and promised the protesters a safe exit if they went home.

The news of the military chief’s crisis meetings comes amid diplomatic push by the US and the EU.

The political arm of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which met US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on Saturday, reiterated its continued commitment to “legitimacy, which stipulated the return of the president, the constitution and the Shura Council,” referring to the upper house of parliament.

The US envoy’s visit, which followed trips by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, was the latest move in a diplomatic drive to break the deadlock in Egypt.

He is expected to meet the interim interior minister and defense minister later on Sunday.

The latest declaration by the Brotherhood suggested that Burns’s visit had failed to shift their position.

“We affirm our welcome of any political solutions proposed on the basis of constitutional legitimacy and rejection of the coup,” said the statement from the Freedom and Justice Party.


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