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Dialogue a solution to Egypt’s problems

While accountability of government is important, the opposition must refrain from creating instability

Gulf News

The continued unrest in Egypt is unfortunate. At least five people have been killed and more than 400 injured in clashes between President Mohammad Mursi’s supporters and the opposition. At present, the popularly elected government is facing its biggest crisis since it assumed power in June. With at least six advisers resigning from office to protest against a controversial decree that grants the president sweeping powers, Mursi’s task is not going to be easy. This signals a loss of trust in leadership by Mursi’s inner circle and is bound to impact the government’s credibility.

Having incurred widespread anger at the power grab, Mursi’s appeal for calm and dialogue to discuss the referendum vote that will decide the future of the constitution seems to have been lost in the uproar on the street. The opposition headed by Mohammad Al Baradei has so far rejected talks until the decree is annulled and the referendum suspended. This does not bode well for any efforts being made by the government to defuse the situation that is clearly getting from bad to worse.

It is imperative that dialogue be held and the key issue of the constitution be discussed calmly among the government and opposition. Violence is not the way forward, nor will it resolve political disputes. Democracy in Egypt is in a nascent stage and all stakeholders, including the opposition and the people must realise that while accountability of government is important, it is also necessary to refrain from creating and perpetuating instability. In this case the power tussle between the executive and the judiciary has escalated to an extent that portends bigger trouble unless remedial action is taken on an immediate basis. The protests have already spread beyond Cairo in Suez and Esmailiya. The current scenario depicts Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters pitted against the opposition and it is high time that both sides urge restraint and push for dialogue.

It is feared that unless this is done, Egypt will once again slide into the chaos it had successfully risen from.