Egypt’s interim president is urging people to remain calm and abstain from violence following a new round of deadly clashes in Cairo.
Interim President Adly Mansour spoke on state television late Monday, July 22, telling Egyptians that reconciliation is necessary for the country to move forward.
His comments came after new clashes erupted in Cairo between supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Security officials said Monday’s fighting started with stone-throwing when a group of Morsi supporters passed near Tahrir Square during a protest march. Four people were reported killed and dozens more were wounded.
One anti-Morsi protester says it escalated quickly. “We were near to Tahrir Square next to Kasr el-Nil bridge, and we heard gunshots and fireworks and there was an exchange of clashes between anti-Morsi protesters and a march that was heading to the U.S. Embassy.”
Morsi Family Speaks Out
Earlier Monday, Morsi’s family spoke out against Egypt’s military, accusing it of kidnapping him. The former president’s son, Osama Morsi, threatened to use legal measures to gain his father’s release.
“I sent a message to the international media, and civil society organizations and the United Nations to uphold the responsibility of the safety and security of the president, who is still the legitimate president. We are placing the responsibility of his safety upon everyone, and we don’t exempt anyone from the responsibility. What happened is a complete crime of abduction and no less, and a perfect example of the kidnapping of the people’s will and kidnapping an entire nation,” said Osama Morsi.
At a news conference in Cairo, Osama Morsi said the family has not seen their father since July 3 when Egypt’s military overthrew Morsi’s democratically elected government.
Morsi’s daughter, Shaimaa, also had harsh words for Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the army commander and defense minister who played a central role in forcing Morsi from office.
“We hold responsible the leader of the bloody military coup and his group, the security and safety of the health of my father, the civilian and the president,” said Shaimaa Morsi.
Military officials say they have detained Morsi for his own protection and that he is in good health.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has been holding near daily demonstrations in Cairo and across the country, demanding his release and reinstatement. He had served only one year of his term as Egypt’s first democratically elected president following the removal of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Egypt’s military-backed interim leaders are pressing ahead with their road map for returning the country to democratic rule.
On Sunday, a panel of experts rewriting controversial parts of the suspended constitution met for the first time. Egypt’s interim government has said it intends to hold new elections under a revised constitution early next year.
On another front, it has been reported that an Egyptian envoy is protesting the country’s suspension from the African Union, saying the decision was based on a misunderstanding of events. The AU Commission plans to send a panel to Egypt to reassess its decision.
Egypt says it feels its suspension from the African Union, after the military overthrew former president Mohamed Morsi early this month, should be reconsidered.
Special envoy Mona Omar said Egypt regrets the AU decision. She said, “We came to explain and to say that the revolution that took place in Egypt was a popular uprising, nothing of an unconstitutional change, and that we are expecting our brothers and sisters in Africa and the African Union really to support us.”
Two days after Egypt’s military toppled the Morsi government, suspended the constitution and appointed an interim president, the African Union suspended the country’s membership, saying the change of government was unconstitutional.
AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Egypt has agreed to receive a panel to investigate the situation.
“We have reached an understanding that they will go, they will meet, the come back, and inform the Peace and Security [Council] what they found, what they heard, and we will take it from there,” said Dlamini-Zuma. “But we are very keen that Egypt should speedily come back to the family of the AU as an active member.”
The panel is made up of three former African presidents.
The Egyptian special envoy hopes the panel finds Egypt’s suspension can be lifted within the next few weeks.
“From our point of view, the criteria that was taken at the beginning for the prevention of Egypt from continuing was not the right one,” said the envoy. “So we hope that when this panel comes, and sees the situation on the ground, we take the right decision that this is a constitutional change taking place in Egypt.”