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Morsi's Spokesman: He's Made Errors; We Want Dialogue

Egypt's opposition urges protesters to stay on the streets until Morsi goes, as his spokesman urges dialogue.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/1/2013, 3:16 AM

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi
AFP photo

Egypt's main opposition coalition on Sunday urged hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi to stay on the streets until their goals are achieved, AFP reports.

In a statement entitled "Revolution Statement 1", they urged "all the revolutionary forces and all citizens to maintain their peaceful (rallies) in all the squares and streets and villages and hamlets of the country... until the last of this dictatorial regime falls."

Meanwhile, Egypt's presidency held a press conference on Sunday night at the presidential palace in Cairo, where spokesman Omar Amer stressed the presidency's respect for the demands of the street but also emphasized the need for dialogue.

"We respect the demands of the street and we acknowledge that the political scene in Egypt is continuously changing," said Amer, according to the website of the Al-Ahram newspaper. "But initiatives are being announced every hour and communication is ongoing."

"Groups who have demands must sit down to dialogue," said Amer, who reminded listeners of the presidency's repeated calls for dialogue that had been rejected by some factions of the opposition.

"We must stress that the issue of dialogue is not mere rhetoric as some claim it to be," Amr said, according to Al-Ahram. "The president has continuously said that he wanted everyone to listen to his initiative with the aim of holding serious national dialogue."

Amer further stressed that the presidency would continue to protect peaceful protests to ensure the right of expression. He also praised the "patriotic role played by Egypt's security forces" in protecting Sunday's mass rallies.

He added that Morsi knows he has made mistakes and is working to fix them.

“Morsi announced to all of Egypt's people he made mistakes and that he is in the process of fixing these mistakes," Amer said, noting that the president was serious in his repeated calls for national dialogue.

An estimated 17 million people hit the streets of Egypt on Sunday, as Morsi marked one year since his inauguration as president.

Al Arabiya has updated the death toll in the protests to five people. Earlier reports indicated that four people had been killed. More than 200 protesters were wounded in Egypt, according to security and health officials cited by the network.

The anti-Morsi protests have been organized by a grassroots campaign calling itself Tamarod, meaning "rebellion" or "insubordination", which claims to have collected the signatures of 22 million Egyptians demanding the president leaves office.

The petition has no legal standing, but it has nonetheless tapped into widespread public anger towards Morsi. The president has made a number of controversial decisions since taking office, most notably a November decree which shielded his decisions from judicial review.

On Friday, Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo in two opposing mass rallies, one calling for Morsi’s ouster, and another showing support for the embattled Islamist president.

Protests also took place in Alexandria, where American student Andrew Pochter of Chevy Chase, Maryland, was killed after being stabbed by a protester. Another man, an Egyptian, was also killed.