In his first public speech since violence broke out, President Mohamed Morsy called for dialogue among all political groups and said he will not insist on keeping Article 6, which places his decrees above judicial authority.
“I invite all political groups, revolutionary youth, legal experts and opposition figures for talks on Saturday, 8 December, to reach consensus and find an exit to this crisis,” Morsy said.
Egyptians living abroad are expected to vote on the constitutional referendum on 8 December.
Speaking about Article 6 Morsy said, “this article was never meant to be an insult to the judiciary,” stressing that he wants judges to continue to practice their normal role outside politics.
Justifying the constitutional declaration, Morsy said he only intended to end the transitional period and bring about constitutional stability. “I had to issue the presidential decree because there were threats on the nation,” he said.
Morsy said the referendum is still to take place on 15 December. The constitutional declaration will be void even if the constitution does not pass. “If Egyptians say ‘No’ to the constitution, I will use my authority to found a new Constituent Assembly either by
consensus or direct elections,” he said.
Commenting on Wednesday’s clashes in front of the Presidential Palace, which left at least five dead and about 700 injured, Morsy said investigations have revealed that many of those present in skirmishes were armed and paid to ignite violence. “I will not allow
the deposed, corrupt regime to return under any circumstances,” he said.
The president emphasised the right of peaceful protest but asked, “does peaceful protest mean attacking public and private buildings? Hindering traffic or disrupting work?”
He confirmed that the details of those arrested will be released later and would prove to be related to the former regime. “Investigations have shown that 80 detainees have confessed to having relations with political powers and are financed to incite hatred and violence,” he said.
Morsy has repeatedly stated that he can tell the difference between opposition to the constitutional declaration and people who are motivated by “corrupt money.”
He concluded his speech by offering condolences to the families of those killed on Wednesday, wishing all Egyptians love and cooperation.