CAIRO, Dec 8, 2012 (AFP) -
CAIRO, Dec 8, 2012 (AFP) –
Egypt’s main Islamist parties, including President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, rejected on Saturday opposition demands to delay a December 15 referendum on a new constitution they helped draft.
The 13 parties “insist that the referendum on the constitution take place on the scheduled date, with no modification or delay,” according to a joint statement read to media by the number two of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater.
The refusal butts up against opposition insistence that dialogue between it and Morsi’s government cannot begin unless Morsi postpones the referendum and gives up sweeping powers he assumed last month.
Egypt’s powerful military warned on Saturday that talks must take place, otherwise the crisis in Egypt could descend into “a dark tunnel with disastrous results — and that is something we will not allow.”
Egypt’s Vice President Mohamed Mekki on Friday said the referendum could be delayed, but only if the opposition guaranteed it would not exploit what would be a legal breach of Morsi’s duty to hold the plebiscite by December 15.
The rejection issued Saturday was signed by the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, as well as the Al-Nour party representing hardline Salafists.
Street clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents killed seven people and wounded more than 600 in Cairo this week, and prompted the army to deploy tanks and troops to protect Morsi’s presidential palace.