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Brotherhood faces ban as Egypt rulers up pressure

79 killed Saturday alone,toll now 830; army chief warns against new clashes.

Written by Reuters | Cairo |
August 19, 2013 1:09:34 am

Egypt’s army-backed rulers on Sunday met to discuss their bloody confrontation with deposed President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood amid contrasting proposals for compromise and a fight to death.

In a televised speech to military and police officers,army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi vowed to crack down on anyone using violence,but also struck an apparently inclusive note,telling Morsi’s supporters: “There is room for everyone in Egypt”.

The Brotherhood,under huge pressure since police stormed its protest camps in Cairo and killed hundreds of its supporters on Wednesday,staged several more marches across the country to demand the reinstatement of Morsi,ousted by Sissi on July 3.

Egypt,the most populous Arab nation,is grappling with the worst bout of internal bloodshed in its modern history,just 30 months after President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow was hailed as heralding democratic change across a region ruled by autocrats.

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Seventy-nine people died and 549 were wounded in political violence around the country on Saturday,state news agency MENA said on Sunday,quoting the government. That pushed the death toll since Wednesday to 830,including 70 police and soldiers.

It was not immediately clear how Saturday’s deaths had occurred. Previously only one person had been reported killed.

On Saturday,Morsi supporters exchanged fire with security forces who eventually cleared protesters from a central Cairo mosque where they had sought refuge from clashes the day before.

Before the cabinet met,liberal deputy prime minister Ziad Bahaa el-Din had floated a conciliatory proposal,seen by Reuters,advocating an end to a state of emergency declared last week,political participation for all parties and guarantees of human rights,including the right to free assembly.

But his initiative seemed at odds with the stance of Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi,who suggested outlawing the 85-year-old Brotherhood,which would effectively force it underground.

“There will be no reconciliation with those whose hands that have been stained with blood and who turned weapons against the state and its institutions,” Beblawi told reporters on Saturday.

The cabinet meeting lasted about four hours,but ended with no immediate announcement of any major decision.

The capital’s frenetic streets,unusually empty in the past few days,were returning to normal,although the army kept several big squares closed and enforced a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

At night,soldiers standing by armoured personnel carriers man checkpoints and vigilantes inspect cars for weapons.

Banks and the stock market reopened for the first time since Wednesday’s carnage,and shares plunged 3.9 percent.

Pros and cons

Saudi prince fires TV preacher over Brotherhood links

RIYADH: Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has fired Tareq al-Suwaidan,a renowned Kuwaiti preacher and motivational speaker,from the top job at the religious TV channel he owns for what he described as “extremist inclinations” and links with the Muslim Brotherhood. “There is no place for those who carry any deviant thoughts at Al Resalah Channel,” Alwaleed wrote to Suwaidan.

38 Brotherhood activists die in prison

CAIRO: Some 38 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood died on Sunday in an incident at an Egyptian prison,security and legal sources said,giving conflicting versions of the deaths.

The Interior Ministry did not confirm the toll,but said a number of detainees had tried to escape from a prison and were killed in subsequent clashes. However,offering a different explanation,a legal source told Reuters that the Brotherhood followers had suffocated in the back of a crammed police van while being taken to prison.

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