Compromise in offing in Egypt’s draft charter

Compromise in offing in Egypt’s draft charter

Compromise in offing in Egypt’s draft charter

Egyptian President Morsi’s supporters (background) clash with opponents (foreground) outside the presidential palace, in Cairo. Clashes began when thousands of supporters of Morsi descended on the area around the palace where some 300 of his opponents were staging a sit-in. AP photo

Supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi clashed yesterday at the presidential palace in Cairo, while the vice president gave signals of a change in the disputed draft Constitution, saying that a referendum on the charter would be held on Dec. 15.

Vice President Mahmoud Mekky told a news conference that amendments to disputed articles of the draft Constitution could be agreed upon with the opposition and be put in writing ahead of a Dec. 15 referendum, calling for dialogue with opponents to end the crisis, Reuters reported. “There must be consensus,” he said, adding that he expected a dialogue to begin soon and that demands of opposition protesters must be respected.

“There is real political will to pass the current period and respond to the demands of the public,” Mekky said. “[We] could ... agree from now on amendments in a written document before the referendum.”

In response, Egyptian opposition leader Amr Moussa said that Morsi should make a formal offer for dialogue. “We are ready when there is something formal, something expressed in definite terms; we will not ignore it, especially if there is something useful.”

According to Mekky’s plan, all parties would respect the document until the new parliamentary elections that are expected early next year. At that point, Parliament would initiate steps towards a formal amendment of the Constitution.

Mekky called for “communication between political forces” on the document. He said the referendum on the charter would proceed as planned on Dec. 15, while protests denouncing the charter raged outside.

Turkish scribes injured
Several thousand Morsi supporters chased opposition protesters from a camp they had set up outside the presidential palace in Cairo, Agence France-Presse reported.

The Islamists rallied to the call of the Muslim Brotherhood, chanting “the people want to cleanse the square” of opposition demonstrators, and “Morsi has legitimacy.” Minor clashes involving thrown stones took place before the secular-leaning opposition protesters – who had besieged the building by the tens of thousands on Dec. 4 – fled the area.

Meanwhile, two Turkish journalists were wounded during an attack by 20 people in Tahrir Square while reporting on the protests, Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkish state TV TRT’s Cairo representative Mehmet Akif Ersoy and TRT cameraman Adil Ahmet were beaten with chains and sticks and their camera was broken. Organizers of the protests saved the two journalists and they were treated at a field hospital.