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Egyptian defense minister warns that unrest will have disastrous results for nation

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi is warning that the unrest sweeping the freshly democratic nation could lead to the collapse of the state. In a speech he gave to students at a military academy, Sissi says that a failure to resolve the situation "could lead to grave repercussions if the political forces do not act."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sissi in his comments posted on his Facebook page, says that the situation is dire. "The continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations," he said.

Sissi, the head of Egypt's military, also said that the political, economical, social and security problems facing Egypt constitute "a threat to the country's security and stability." His comments are being seen as a warning to Egypt's political class, which to date has done little to quell the ongoing crisis.

Egypt is still reeling after five days of nationwide unrest that left 52 people dead, hundreds wounded, and major cities paralyzed.

There are reports of 240 people wounded in Cairo, Port Said and nearby areas, with 178 arrested in Tahrir Square alone.

In response, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi cancelled his planned visit to Paris this week. He had been due to arrive in Paris following a visit to Berlin on Wednesday and to meet French President Francoise Hollande over breakfast on Friday.

The wave of unrest started primarily in Cairo and the eastern city of Suez last week on the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled Mubarak.

The violence reached Port Said, after a court sentenced 21 people to death in connection with a football riot there last year. Families of the defendants tried to storm the prison where their relatives were held, and 32 people were killed in the ensuing violence.

President Morsi imposed a state of emergency and a nighttime curfew in Suez, Port Said and Ismailiah. In defiance of the curfew, around 2,000 people gathered in Suez in the main square, chanting peacefully against Morsi.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in defiance of that curfew, chanting "down, down with Mohamed Morsi." The army did little to enforce the curfew.

In related news, Egypt's upper house of parliament on Monday ratified a law that would grant the armed forces powers of arrest.

Morsi invited his allies and rivals for talks this week to try to resolve the political crisis. But the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, which had already rejected a similar call for dialogue last year, denounced the offer as "cosmetic."

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