Egypt’s interim leader vowed fresh elections by early next year as Islamists staged fresh rallies Tuesday after dozens of ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s loyalists died in clashes at a Cairo military barracks.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has led demonstrations against last week’s military overthrow of the Islamist leader, called for an “uprising” after accusing troops and police of “massacring” its supporters during dawn prayers on Monday.
“Each province is organising funerals and rallies (Tuesday), and each province will have a central sit-in,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told AFP.
At the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, where Morsi supporters have been camping out for nearly two weeks, several thousand demonstrators, worn out by the heat, listened to speakers urging them to remain steadfast in their protest.
Amid the widening chasm in the restive country, interim president Adly Mansour issued a decree setting a timetable for a referendum on an amended constitution and then for parliamentary elections.
Mansour will form a panel of judicial experts to draft amendments to the suspended 2012 constitution within 15 days.
Once a draft is ready, it will go to a popular referendum, paving the way for parliamentary elections.
Mansour will announce the date for presidential elections after the new parliament convenes, according to the decree which was swiftly rejected by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Islamist group released the names of 42 people killed in the incident outside the elite Republican Guards’ headquarters, as the interior ministry and military said two policemen and a soldier were also killed.
Emergency services chief Mohammed Sultan said at least 51 people were killed and 435 wounded.
The military blamed “terrorists”, while witnesses, including Brotherhood supporters at the scene, said security forces fired warning shots and tear gas, and that “thugs” in civilian clothes carried out the shootings.
The United States called on the Egyptian army to exercise “maximum restraint”, while also condemning “explicit” Brotherhood calls to violence.
The Islamist movement’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), had called for “an uprising by the great people of Egypt against those trying to steal their revolution with tanks” because of Monday’s killings.
In the Suez Canal city of Port Said, gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a church early Tuesday, wounding a man, witnesses said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the latest wave of bloodshed in Egypt, calling for an independent inquiry.
According to Mansour’s decree, a panel representing political, religious and security services will agree final amendments to the constitution suspended on Morsi’s ouster and put it to referendum.
Parliamentary elections would be completed in less than three months after the constitution is ratified.
A senior Muslim Brotherhood official denounced the decree. “A constitutional decree by a man appointed by putschists… brings the country back to square one,” said Essam al-Erian in a Facebook posting.
In response to the “massacre”, the conservative Islamist Al-Nur party, which won almost a quarter of the votes in 2011-2012 parliamentary elections and had backed the army’s overthrow of Morsi, said it was pulling out of talks on a new government.
Al-Nur had rejected leading liberal Mohamed ElBaradei’s nomination as prime minister.
Among the names being floated as Egypt’s next premier is liberal economist Samir Radwan, who told AFP he was considering the position.
Mansour, a top judge before his appointment as interim president, has ordered a judicial commission of inquiry into the killings.
Emotions ran high as people searched for the names of missing loved ones on a list of the dead in hospital, where dozens of bodies were laid on the bloody floor of a makeshift morgue.
The army warned it would not allow anyone to threaten national security, urging protesters to stay away from military installations and to end their sit-ins.
International condemnation of Monday’s bloodshed poured in, with Germany expressing “shock” at the violence, Turkey calling it an attack on “humanity” and Brotherhood backer Qatar urging “self-restraint” and “unity”.
Morsi’s single year of turbulent rule was marked by accusations he failed the 2011 revolution that ousted autocratic president Hosni Mubarak by concentrating power in Islamist hands and letting the economy nosedive.
The military, which overthrew Morsi after millions took to the streets from June 30 demanding that he resign, has come under mounting international pressure to swiftly install a civilian administration to oversee a rapid return to elected government.