A supporter of ousted President Mohammed Morsi with a national flag gestures… (Khalil Hamra / Associated…)
CAIRO — As Muslim Brotherhood supporters mourned victims of a deadly clash with Egyptian soldiers, a senior Islamist official on Tuesday rejected a military-backed timetable for fresh elections, saying it "brings the country back to square one."
Egypt’s interim president, Judge Adly Mahmoud Mansour, issued a timetable late Monday calling for amending the constitution and holding parliamentary and presidential elections within six months. Within 15 days, Mansour is due to appoint a committee of jurists and professors to revise the constitution, which the military suspended last week when it ousted the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi from the presidency.
The swift timetable reflects the army’s desire to assure Egyptians — and the rest of the world — about its intention to restore democratic rule after a week of unrest that has left scores dead nationwide. But the quick transition plan was likely to deepen divisions between anti-Morsi demonstrators and Brotherhood supporters,
Essam El-Erian, vice chairman of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, dismissed Mansour’s road map in a Facebook post as "a constitutional decree by a man appointed by putschists."
The Brotherhood, which has denounced Morsi’s removal as an illegal military coup, called for a national uprising in retaliation for the shooting deaths Monday of more than 50 pro-Islamist demonstrators outside the Republican Guard headquarters in east Cairo. Brotherhood leaders charge that the military fired on a peaceful sit-in but army officials say they retaliated against an attack by an “armed terrorist group.”
Brotherhood supporters were preparing another large demonstration Tuesday as they held a memorial ceremony for the victims of the attack, which also left hundreds injured. It was the deadliest incident in a week of protests and street battles between supporters and opponents of Morsi in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities across Egypt.
Egypt’s fractious political groupings have rarely met timetables since the end of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship in February 2011, but according to the road map issued Monday, the 10-member committee of legal experts would have one month to come up with amendments to the constitution. Morsi’s opponents had criticized the current charter, drafted mainly by Islamists, of infringing on personal rights and religious freedom.
The amended charter would then be reviewed by a committee of 50 representatives from across Egyptian society, including leaders of political parties, unions, religious groups and the military. That committee would have 60 days to issue a final document, which would be subject to a national referendum within 30 days, according to Mansour’s decree.
The plan also calls for a presidential election three months after ratification of the constitution, roughly at the end of February 2014.
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