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Opposition rejects Morsi dialogue offer
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Egyptian army tanks secure the perimeter of the presidential palace while protesters gather chanting anti president Mohammed Morsi slogans, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.
Egyptian army tanks secure the perimeter of the presidential palace while protesters gather chanting anti president Mohammed Morsi slogans, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.
Thousands of Egyptians marched towards the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday for another day of demonstrations against the government, while thousands of his backers gathered for a funeral of two men killed in recent clashes.
 
The latest protests on Friday come as the country's main opposition groups rejected President Mohamed Morsi's call for a national political dialogue to resolve the political crisis, Al Jazeera reported.  
 
Rival demonstrations are also being held in Alexandria and Luxor.
 
In a Thursday night address to the nation, Morsi pledged to forge on with a controversial constitutional referendum process.
 
The president condemned the street violence that has gripped the capital following protests against an earlier decree that put presidential orders beyond judicial review.
 
He called the recent violence “regrettable”, and blamed it on “infiltrators” funded by unnamed third parties.
 
Rejecting Morsi's call for dialogue, Ahmed Said, one of the leading members of the opposition coalition, who also heads the liberal Free Egyptians Party, said: “The National Salvation Front (NSF) is not taking part in the dialogue, that is the official stance.”
 
Khaled Daood, a spokesperson for the NSF, told Al Jazeera the coalition was demanding that Morsi delay the vote on the draft constitution and rescind his presidential decree granting himself greater powers before any dialogue.
 
Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent opposition leader whose party is a member of the NSF, also urged political forces to shun the dialogue process. The liberal Wafd party added its voice to that call.
 
Opposition groups have said they will step up their campaign against the decree and the referendum set for December 15. The NSF pledged that any anti-Morsi protests would be peaceful.
 
Soldiers and riot police have been deployed outside the palace to prevent protesters from approaching the building.
 
Dozens of tanks and armored vehicles, as well as barricades of barbed wire, form a ring around the compound.
 
At the funeral held by Morsi's supporters after midday prayers at the al-Azhar mosque, Egypt's most respected Islamic institution, a cleric declared anti-Morsi protesters to be “traitors”.
 
Mourners yelled that opposition leaders were “murderers”.
 
The president's remarks overnight were his first comments to the public after bloody clashes outside his palace on Wednesday.
 
Thousands of backers of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization Morsi resigned from on becoming president, fought with his opponents, resulting in at least six deaths. At least 700 people were also wounded.
 
The speech brought shouts of “the people want to topple the regime!” from the crowd of 30,000 Morsi opponents gathered outside the palace -- the same chant heard in the protests that brought down former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
 
In response to the speech, ElBaradei held his own televised press conference, saying that Morsi’s government showed reluctance in acting to stop Wednesday night's bloodshed outside the palace.
 
He said this failure has eroded the government's legitimacy and made it difficult for his opposition front to negotiate with the president.
 
At least four of Morsi’s advisers have resigned over the crisis, and the Cairo stock market has fallen significantly.
 
(Source: Al Jazeera and Agencies)

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Last Updated on 07 December 2012 17:49