Morsi orders curfew, state of emergency in riot-hit governorates

Cairo, Jan 28 (Xinhua-ANI): Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi imposed Sunday a curfew and a state of emergency in the turmoil- stricken Port Said governorate, as well as Suez and Ismailia, due to the ongoing bloody clashes there.

“I asserted earlier that if I had to, I would take any extraordinary measures to stop bloodshed, preserve security and protect the citizens,” Morsi said in a televised speech Sunday evening, adding that the curfew in the three governorates would last 30 days, starting from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. of the following day.

Over the past few days, the three governorates witnessed bloody confrontations between protesters and security forces.

On Saturday, at least 31 were killed and over 300 injured in clashes between police and angry mob in Port Said, after a court ruled the execution of 21 convicts in a local soccer riot that killed 74 early last year.

Besides, seven have been killed and over 630 injured so far on Sunday, also in Port Said, during a mass funeral for the victims of Saturday’s clashes.

Meanwhile, eight were killed in Suez and one in Ismailia Friday in the similar clashes between protesters and security forces.

The Egyptian president attributed the bloody clashes to “sinful hands” that deviated from peaceful protest and expression of opinions to armed aggression and vandalism.

“I invite leaders of political forces for a dialogue Monday afternoon,” Morsi said, stressing there was no alternative to a dialogue among the Egyptian people to overcome the ongoing crisis.

Egypt’s main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front (NSF) , demanded Morsi Saturday to amend the controversial recently- drafted constitution, form “a qualified national salvation government,” sack the current Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah and subject the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to the law, threatening to urge massive protests next Friday and to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The presidency issued a statement after Morsi’s speech stating that the president invites 11 parties for Monday’s dialogue, including al-Dostour Party headed by NSF leader Mohamed Elbaradei, the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party, al-Wafd Party, Strong Egypt Party and others.

The invitation was also extended to leading opposition figures like former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, leftist ex-presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy, leader of Ghad al-Thawra Party Ayman Nour, etc. (Xinhua-ANI)