CAIRO: Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi urged fresh rallies on Friday, raising fears of renewed violence as police prepared to disperse their Cairo sit-ins amid international appeals for restraint.
The call came as US Secretary of State John Kerry said the military’s removal of the Islamist Morsi—Egypt’s first democratically elected president—had been requested by millions.
Kerry’s comments are the closest Washington has come to publicly embracing the July 3 coup that toppled Morsi, as European diplomats held talks in Cairo with the interim government and Morsi’s backers seeking a way out of the impasse.
Kerry told Pakistan’s Geo television: “The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence.”
“And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgement—so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy,” he added.
Allaa Mostafa, a spokeswoman for the pro-Morsi Anti Coup Alliance, said demonstrators would “continue our sit-ins and our peaceful protests” against what she termed a “coup d’etat.”
Morsi backers rejected an earlier interior ministry offer of a “safe exit” if they quickly left their Cairo protest camps, as police discussed how to implement orders from the military-installed interim government to end the protests.
In a statement, the ministry called on those in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares “to let reason and the national interest prevail, and to quickly leave.”
The ministry pledged “a safe exit and full protection to whomever responds to this appeal.”
The state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, quoting police sources, reported that police have prepared a plan to end the sit-ins, but had not decided when, as the cabinet was still hoping for a peaceful resolution.
The standoff raised fears of new violence less than a week after 82 people were killed in clashes at a pro-Morsi rally in the capital.