Egypt: Unwilling to engage, both sides trade insults in bitter war of words

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MOHAMMED Morsi has shown little sign of buckling under pressure from protesters, confident that the Islamists, who have dominated both elections since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, can win the referendum and the parliamentary election to follow.

Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood’s secretary-general, yesterday said holding the constitutional referendum was the only way out of the crisis, dismissing the opposition as “remnants of the [Mubarak] regime, thugs and people working for foreign agendas”.

As well as relying on his Brotherhood power base, Mr Morsi may also tap into a popular yearning for stability and economic revival after almost two years of turmoil.

Egypt’s pound hit an eight-year low yesterday after previously firming on hopes that a $4.8 billion (£2.9bn)IMF loan would stabilise the economy. The stock market fell 4.6 per cent.

But the opposition, for its part, is refusing to engage in talks unless Mr Morsi rescinds the decrees giving him near unrestricted powers and shelves the draft constitution, which this Islamist allies rushed through last week. Mohammed ElBaradei, a leading opposition reform advocate, said that Mr Morsi’s rule was “no different” than Mubarak’s.

“In fact, it is perhaps even worse,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate told a news conference after he accused the president’s supporters of a “vicious and deliberate” attack on peaceful demonstrators outside the palace in Cairo.