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ElBaradei urges multi-party talks in Egypt

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By The Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 7:44 p.m.
 

CAIRO — A key Egyptian opposition leader on Wednesday called for talks with President Mohamed Morsy, ultraconservative Islamists and military officials to quell days of rioting that have killed more than 50 people and left the country edging toward anarchy.

The proposal by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader in the National Salvation Front, was made as two men were killed near Tahrir Square and nationwide protests echoed for a sixth day. The sense of urgency is high, but disparate political factions have rarely succeeded in putting aside differences.

“We need an immediate meeting between the president, defense and interior ministers, the ruling party, the Salafis and the National Salvation Front to take urgent steps to halt the violence and start serious dialogue,” ElBaradei, who this week had rejected talks with Morsy, wrote on his Twitter account.

The move occurred a day after Egypt's military commander warned Morsy and his political enemies to reach a compromise before the economy collapses. The nation is in danger of unraveling in a rebellion that has made clear the police have lost control and the Islamist-led government lacks the respect to even enforce a curfew in restive cities along the Suez Canal.

It is uncertain if the opposition can play a major role in stemming the chaos.

The National Salvation Front is divided, scattered and lacks credibility among poorer and working-class protesters. But ElBaradei's call for talks would gather key players to resolve unrest that has damaged Egypt's international standing at a time it needs billions of dollars in foreign investment.

The opposition earlier had balked at Morsy's offer for national dialogue, blaming him for the bloodshed. But pressure has grown to find a solution. The ordeal has so altered the political landscape that the mainly secular opposition is siding with the ultraconservative Islamist Salafis in a bid to force Morsy and his more moderate Muslim Brotherhood into a unity government.

 

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