Muslim Brotherhood offers talks over Morsi

Muslim Brotherhood offers talks over Morsi

An Islamist coalition led by the Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday offered negotiations to end the deadly tumult since Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow, without explicitly insisting on his reinstatement.

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The coalition “calls on all revolutionary forces and political parties and patriotic figures to enter a deep dialogue on exiting the current crisis,” it said in a statement.

The proposal comes after more than 1,000 people, mostly Morsi supporters, were killed in clashes with police and thousands more arrested following his overthrow by the military on July 3.

The coalition, which has organised weekly protests despite the crackdown, insisted in its statement on keeping up “peaceful opposition”, but said it wanted a “consensus for the public good of the country”.

Much of the Brotherhood’s leadership has been put on trial, including Morsi himself.

“We have no conditions, and neither should they,” Imam Youssef, a leader of the Islamist coalition member the Asala party, told AFP.

But he said the talks must lead to a “democratic” solution, and the coalition wanted them to start within two weeks.

The Islamists were prepared to respect the demands of the millions of protesters who called for Morsi’s ouster, Youssef said.

“We want a democratic solution, and it does not necessarily mean we have to be in power,” he added.

Asked if the coalition would insist on Morsi’s return to office, he replied: “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

A senior member of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said the statement did not mean the Islamists dropped their demand on Morsi’s reinstatement, but were open to discussing how he could constitutionally resign.

“The range is there and there are disagreeing visions,” he said, adding some insist Morsi must complete his term, while others would accept he resign immediately and give his powers to a prime minister.

“As for the details, if they are in accordance with legitimacy and the constitution, the (solution) would be okay,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

The talks proposed Saturday were aimed at political parties, he added.

“We can have a conversation with the coup authorities, but only if they accept the framework.”

The coalition statement said Islamist prisoners must be released and Islamist broadcasters closed after Morsi’s overthrow must be reopened.

They also insisted that the military, which has formally handed power to an interim civilian government, must “return to the barracks”.

Unlike previous offers, which all hinged on Morsi’s return to power before negotiations, the Islamists were pointedly vague on their goals.

They demanded “a return to constitutional legitimacy and the democratic process with the participation of all political groups, without one group monopolising the process or excluding any group”.