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Egypt opposition rejects Morsi offer

Egypt's largely secular opposition to Islamist President Mohammed Morsi has rejected his overtures for talks. It could be a trigger for further violence.

Egypt's opposition rejected a talks offer from President Mohammed Morsi on Friday, a move that could cause already simmering political violence in the country to escalate.

The secular opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, charged Morsi with rejecting “repeated demands to him to offer consensus solutions... to lift Egypt out of its current disastrous situation.”

It also accused Morsi of "dividing Egyptians between his 'supporters of legitimacy'... and his opponents, whom he calls 'thugs'."

The Front also called for more mass rallies following midday prayers. Opponents collected in Cairo's Tahrir Square in response. Youth activist group April 6 called on demonstrations from all of Cairo's mosques to head to the capital city's main squares.

Friday will also witness funerals for a handful of the seven people that were killed on Wednesday night during a confrontation between Morsi opponents and the president's supporters. Demonstrations this week, which left around 600 people injured, are the biggest that Egypt has experienced since Morsi came to power in June.

Fears of a power grab

In a televised address late on Thursday, Morsi condemned the street violence and stressed that he intended to go ahead with the controversial constitutional referendum scheduled for December 15.

He promised, however, to rescind the decree he issued on November 22 which expanded his powers and rendered him immune to judicial review.

Amr Moussa, a presidential candidate and former Arab League chief, told news agency Reuters that he felt the draft constitution had been rushed through by the Islamist-dominated assembly and the referendum on it should be delayed.

The Islamist president faces a largely secular coalition and observers say deep rifts have emerged within society almost two years after a popular revolt forced Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Several of Morsi's advisers have quit over the crisis, and the Cairo stock market has taken a heavy hit from the latest violence. There was no share trading on Friday, the Muslim day of rest.

sej/bk (AFP, dpa)