CAIRO Protesters and riot police clashed in Cairo and the riot-torn city of Port Said as Egypt’s political violence stretched into a fifth day Monday, despite efforts by the Islamist president to contain the crisis by imposing a state of emergency in three provinces.
At least 56 people have been killed in the wave of violence, which has led to the military deploying in Port Said and another city along the Suez Canal and threatened to shake the control of President Mohammed Morsi’s government.
The main opposition coalition rejected Morsi’s call for national dialogue to resolve the crisis, demanding that he first make deep concessions to break what opponents call the monopoly that Islamists have tried to impose on power. The National Salvation Front said it wouldn’t join any dialogue until Morsi forms a national unity government and begins work to rewrite parts of the Islamist-backed constitution.
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, which forms the backbone of his rule, have instead tried to take a tougher approach. Angry and at times screaming and wagging his finger, Morsi went on national TV Sunday night and declared a 30-day state of emergency in the Suez Canal provinces of Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez, which are named after their main cities. A nighttime curfew goes into effect in those areas Monday — though protesters are likely to challenge it.