Egyptian Islamist Parties Reject Referendum Delay

Posted December 8th, 2012 at 11:45 am (UTC-5)
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A coalition including the Muslim Brotherhood and other Egyptian Islamist parties have rejected opposition demands to delay a December 15 referendum on a controversial draft constitution.

A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater, said Saturday the referendum must proceed on the scheduled date without modification or delay.

Meanwhile, Egyptian state media reported that President Morsi has prepared an order to reimpose martial law that would have the military maintain the peace and arrest civilians if necessary.

The report said Mr. Morsi is not issued the order.

In recent weeks, thousands of protesters have poured into the streets of Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt voicing opposition to a decree that grants Mr. Morsi sweeping powers. The protesters, who have also criticized the planned December 15 election, have clashed with the president's supporters.

On Saturday, Mr. Morsi called for what he described as a “comprehensive dialogue” with the opposition. But opposition leaders say talks with his government cannot begin until the decree is revoked and the referendum is canceled.

Egypt's military said Saturday it supports dialogue to resolve political differences.

On Friday, Egypt postponed the start of early voting on the referendum by Egyptians abroad. Some analysts said the move could signal that the president may be willing to negotiate with the opposition.

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said the president's refusal to compromise has created what ElBaradei calls “a disaster.”

Two protesters were killed in clashes this week, and nearly 700 people have been injured since the start of the demonstrations. Mr. Morsi has said he will not tolerate killings or sabotage.