Opposition to meet over Egypt president's talks offer

CAIRO Fri Dec 7, 2012 3:11pm IST

1 of 3. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood welcome tanks arriving outside the Egyptian presidential palace in Cairo December 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, will meet on Friday to review a call by President Mohamed Mursi for a national dialogue to resolve a crisis after his decision to expand his powers, a leading opposition politician said.

In a televised speech late on Thursday, Mursi proposed a meeting on Saturday with political leaders, "revolutionary youth" and legal figures to discuss the way forward after a referendum on a new constitution set for December 15.

Seven people were killed and hundreds injured this week in clashes around the presidential palace which followed Mursi's November 22 decree that awarded himself extra powers and his decision to rush through a new constitution, written by an Islamist-dominated assembly that was opposed by liberals and others.

"We have decided to meet this afternoon and discuss the whole issue and the proposal and speech by the president. We want a collective stand on that," Amr Moussa, a presidential candidate and former Arab League chief, told Reuters, adding the precise time had yet to be finalised.

Opposition groups have called for protests on Friday against Mursi and his decree. One prominent protest movement has rejected the president's offer of talks.

Among the demands of the liberal-leaning Front, Moussa said the opposition coalition believed a referendum on a draft constitution should be delayed.

"We consider that the referendum at that date will not enable the people to address the constitution and read it and exchange views on it and make their proposals," Moussa said.

The Front would also consider Mursi's comments suggesting he was ready to reconsider elements of his decree. "The mood is still very solid on the demands that we have expressed and stressed," Moussa said.

The Front, which alongside Moussa includes prominent figures such as former U.N. diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei and popular leftist Hamdeen Sabahy, has previously demanded Mursi scrap his decree, postpone the referendum and redraft the constitution.

(Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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