CAIRO, Aug 7: Egypt’s government vowed on Wednesday to break up protest camps after foreign mediation failed, sparking fears of a violent end to the month-long standoff since president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.
“The cabinet affirms that the decision to disperse the Rabaa Adawiya and Nahda sit-ins is a final decision, on which all agree, and there is no going back on it,” Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi said on state television.
Protesters have been camped out in two Cairo squares and insist they will stay until the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi is reinstated as president.
“We call on them now, anew, to quickly leave, and return to their homes and work, without being chased if their hands have not been soiled by blood,” Beblawi said.
“The government’s solicitude for the holy month of Ramazan ... in which it hoped the crisis would be resolved without the intervention of security, did not mean the cabinet had gone back on its decision,” he said, just hours before the end of the fasting month.
The presidency announced earlier on Wednesday that western and Arab efforts to mediate an end to Egypt’s political deadlock had failed.
Its statement came hours after US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns left Cairo, having made no headway in finding a compromise between the army-installed government and Morsi’s supporters.
“The phase of diplomatic efforts has ended today,” the presidency said, referring to mediation by Burns and EU envoy Bernardino Leon, who were among other diplomats who had travelled to Cairo. “These efforts have not achieved the hoped for results.”
The presidency said it “holds the Muslim Brotherhood completely responsible for the failure of these efforts, and for consequent events and developments relating to violations of the law and endangering public safety”.
More than 250 people have been killed in clashes since Morsi’s ouster by the military on July 3, following days of mass rallies demanding the president’s resignation.
The government had already ordered police to end the sit-ins and protests, which it described as a “national security threat”, but held off amid intense diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful resolution.—AFP