Egyptian Islamist Parties Reject Referendum Delay

Posted December 8th, 2012 at 3:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Egypt's prime minister says President Mohamed Morsi is preparing to amend a controversial decree that gives the president sweeping powers, in a push to defuse political tensions and deadly violence gripping the country.

Speaking Saturday on an Egyptian television, Hisham Qandil said a freshly appointed committee was drafting a new decree that could be approved by early Sunday.

Qandil said the president also wanted talks with elements of the opposition on the possibility of postponing a December 15 referendum on a controversial draft constitution. The vice president did not provide further details.

The November 22 emergency decree and the draft constitution days later sparked days of violent protest in Cairo and elsewhere in the country. The president said earlier this week that at least seven people had been killed and hundreds of other injured in the demonstrations.

An opposition umbrella of liberals, secularists and supporters of the former regime claim the draft constitution was pushed through by President Morsi's Islamist backers, without opposition input.

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

On Friday, authorities 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” in his homeland.