On June 26 the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi warned in a widely broadcasted speech that polarization was threatening the country’s democratic process. He also acknowledged he had made some ‘mistakes’, and offered opponents a say in amending the new constitution. The speech comes days before the planned massive demonstration on June 30, the day will mark a year since Morsi won the Presidential elections.
Meanwhile, during demonstrations in the northern city Mansoura, demanding Morsi to step down, two people were killed. More than 200 were injured in the fighting between supporters and opponents of the Islamist led government. The demonstrations became violent as President Morsi marks his first year in office.
A massive demonstration, organized by the revolutionary Tamarod (rebel) movement, is planned on June 30. Tamarod claims to have already collected more than 15 million signatures for a petition to withdraw confidence from President Morsi.
‘The enemies of Egypt’
Despite Morsi’s initial tone, the speech swiftly moved to a condemnation of those he blamed for Egypt’s problems. ‘The enemies of Egypt have not spared effort in trying to sabotage the democratic experience.’
Morsi called on opposition figures to ‘enter elections if you want to change the government’. He criticized them for not taking part in a national dialogue. ‘I say to the opposition, the road to change is clear. Our hands are extended.’
Troops have been deployed in cities across the country ahead of the planned massive protests this weekend, demanding Morsi’s removal. The army urged on politicians to resolve the current situation, warning that it would not allow Egypt to slip into ‘uncontrollable conflict.’
Hundreds gathered to watch the speech on screens at the famous Tahrir Square. Many reacted furiously on Morsi’s words, holding shoes in a sign of disrespect.
Since Morsi’s election as President in June 2012, the country has been deeply divided between his Islamist supporters and a secular opposition, which calls for early elections and sees Morsi’s rule as autocratic and incompetent.
Some have speculated that Morsi might reshuffle his cabinet, in an attempt to defuse the anger against him. Most anger however stems from the economic hardship in the country, which led to falling living standards. A recent survey revealed that a strong 76% of the people believes that the economic situation in the country is ‘bad’. In order to fix the mounting budget crisis major reforms, including cuts to fuel and food subsidies, may be needed.