Published June 22, 2013
CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has repeated a call for dialogue with the opposition in an attempt to mitigate deep political divisions ahead of planned rallies later this month calling for his resignation.
"I have said it before. I urge everyone to sit together to discuss what would achieve the interests of our nation," Morsi said in an interview published in the state-owned Akhbar al-Youm newspaper.
The interview comes a day after tens of thousands of Morsi supporters massed in Cairo in a show of strength ahead of opposition protests planned for June 30.
Egypt is deeply polarised. Morsi's supporters say he is clearing institutions of decades of corruption but his critics accuse him of concentrating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Since taking office a year ago, Morsi has squared off with the judiciary, media, police and most recently artists.
There is much anticipation and anxiety ahead of the June 30 protests, with fears of violence and instability.
But Morsi says there is still room to resolve differences off the streets.
He said he would consider bringing forward parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to take place later this year, although no date has yet been set.
"I will continue in my pursuit for contact, and I may speed up parliamentary elections as a way of involving everyone in an agreed method to manage our differences," Morsi said.
"The call for protest on June 30 reflects the atmosphere of freedom granted to us by the revolution" of 2011, he said.
He appealed for calm and accused those who benefited from the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak of inciting instability.
"They want to bring back the past because the revolution harmed their interests. (People) must stop their evil plans because they do not want calm and stability for Egypt," Morsi said.
The tone reflects a view taken by his supporters who accuse the opposition of being remnants of the Mubarak regime and of being counter-revolutionary.
Morsi's critics say he has betrayed the revolution that brought him to power and has failed to achieve any of its goals.
During his tenure, the economy has taken a tumble, investment has dried up, the vital tourism industry has been battered and inflation has soared.
Political divisions have also spilled onto the streets in violent and sometimes deadly confrontations.
A campaign dubbed Tamarod (rebellion in Arabic) called the June 30 rally to coincide with the first anniversary of Morsi becoming president.
Tamarod organisers said they have collected 15 million signatures demanding that Morsi quit, leaving the government jittery and energising the fragmented opposition.