Monday, December 11, 2017

Egypt's president signs constitution, reaches out to critics

CAIRO — Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi enacted a newly passed divisive constitution Wednesday even as he attempted to reach out to opponents in his most conciliatory remarks since voters began considering the document.

Offering to engage in a national dialogue with an increasingly organized opposition movement, Morsi said in a nationally televised address, "We don't want to go back to a time when there was one opinion and an artificial majority," referring to former President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party, which ruled Egypt during Mubarak's nearly 30-year tenure.

Opponents, however, rejected Morsi's call for talks, saying he can't be trusted and signaling that the nation will remain polarized. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, through which he ascended to the presidency six months ago, have heralded the new document as a pathway to stability. Morsi resigned from the Islamist group after his election.

The opposition groups — Christians, secularists, liberals and moderates — have called the constitution divisive and unrepresentative, saying it was written largely by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some also have labeled it illegal, charging that there were irregularities during the referendum. "We will continue to fight against the constitution with all peaceful means," said Ahmed Said, the head of the Free Egyptians Party.

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