Egypt braces for more protests

Updated 17 July 2013
0

Egypt braces for more protests

CAIRO: Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Mursi called for protests yesterday and Egyptians prayed there would be no repeat of clashes that have killed more than 90 people in the last week in the bitterly divided Arab nation.
More than a week after the army toppled Egypt’s first elected leader on a wave of demonstrations, Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement wants people to join it on the streets to push for his reinstatement, which now looks like a lost cause.
Officials say Mursi is still being held at the Republican Guard compound in Cairo, where troops killed 53 protesters on Monday in violence that intensified anger his allies already felt at the military’s decision to oust him.
Four members of the security forces were also killed in that confrontation, which the military blames on “terrorists.” Mursi’s supporters call it a massacre and say those who died were praying peacefully when troops opened fire.
Many of Egypt’s 84 million people have been shocked by the shootings, graphic images of which have appeared on state and private news channels and social media. The incident occurred just three days after 35 people were killed in clashes between pro- and anti-Mursi demonstrators across the country.
“It’s a very hard time for Egyptians, to see footage of blood and violence during the holy month of Ramadan, and everyone I speak to says the same thing,” said Fateh Ali, a 54-year-old civil servant in Cairo.
“I really hope the situation gets resolved soon. I don’t think we can afford this economically or psychologically.”
The Brotherhood contends it is the victim of a military crackdown, evoking memories of its suppression under Hosni Mubarak, whose 30-year rule collapsed in an uprising in 2011. The unrest has also raised fear over security in the lawless Sinai peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip. One Egyptian policeman was killed and another wounded early yesterday when militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at checkpoints in the Sinai town of El Arish.
Egyptian state media said police arrested three Palestinian militants for attempted attacks in Sinai.
Outside the Rabaa Adawiya mosque in northeastern Cairo, thousands of Brotherhood supporters gathered late on Thursday to mourn the dead in Monday’s violence, the deadliest since Mubarak was toppled, apart from a 2012 soccer stadium riot. Women wailed and men cried as they watched a large screen showing graphic footage of hospital scenes immediately after the shooting, with corpses on the floor and medics struggling to cope with the number of bloodied casualties being carried in.
Hundreds of Egyptian flags fluttered in the evening breeze. Songs of defiance were sung. Many thousands of Islamists have camped out in the area, braving searing heat and, since Wednesday, daytime fasting during Ramadan.
It has become the de facto base of the Brotherhood, whose leaders live under the threat of detention after the public prosecutor ordered their arrests earlier in the week.
Judicial sources say authorities are expected to charge Mursi, possibly for corruption or links to violence. Prosecutors are also taking a fresh look at an old case over a 2011 prison break when Mursi was among Brotherhood figures who escaped after being rounded up during anti-Mubarak protests.
The detentions and threats of arrest have drawn concern from the United States, which has walked a semantic tightrope to avoid calling Mursi’s ouster a military coup.
US law bars aid to countries where a democratic government is removed in a coup. Washington, which gives Egypt’s military $1.3 billion in aid each year, has said it is too early to say whether Mursi’s removal by the army meets that description.
The army said it was enforcing the nation’s will after millions of people, fed up at economic stagnation and suspicious of a Brotherhood power grab, took to the streets at the end of June to demand his resignation.
 


Turkey’s Erdogan may seek coalition if AK Party fails to get majority

Updated 27 min 7 sec ago
0

Turkey’s Erdogan may seek coalition if AK Party fails to get majority

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said his ruling AK Party could seek to form a coalition if it fails to secure a parliamentary majority in Sunday’s elections, but said the prospect of this is “very, very low.”
Polls indicate the elections may be closer than anticipated when he called the snap elections in April, suggesting he may be pushed to a second-round run-off for the presidency, and his AKP could lose its majority in the 600-seat assembly.
“If it is under 300 (seats), then there could be a search for a coalition,” Erdogan said in an interview with the Kral FM radio station late on Wednesday.
He added that the probability of this was “very, very low.”
The Turkish lira, which has slumped more than 20 percent against the dollar this year, has extended losses over the last week on concern about the prospect of political uncertainty following the elections.
Investors fear political deadlock if the AK Party loses its majority in parliament as it would put a brake on Erdogan’s ability to exercise the powers of the new presidential system.
The AKP formed an alliance with the nationalist MHP before the elections, which will herald a switch to a new powerful executive presidency narrowly approved in a referendum last year.
Opposition parties also formed an alliance, which excluded the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). If the HDP exceeds the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament, it will be harder for the AKP to achieve a majority.
Under the constitutional changes going into effect after the elections, the number of lawmakers in parliament will increase to 600 from 550 currently.
The AKP has held a majority in parliament for nearly all its 15 years in power, only losing it in the June 2015 election. After parties failed to form a coalition then, Erdogan called a fresh election in November which restored the AKP majority.
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said on Monday another election could be held if his alliance with the AKP cannot form a majority in parliament after Sunday’s vote.