Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi has said that the polarised state of the country’s politics was threatening democracy and could plunge the nation into chaos.
In an address to the nation from Cairo on Wednesday, he acknowledged that he made errors but also blamed unspecified “enemies of Egypt” for damaging the democratic system that sprung out of the uprising of 2011.
“Political polarisation and conflict has reached a stage that threatens our nascent democratic experience and threatens to put the whole nation in a state of paralysis and chaos,” said Morsi.
“The enemies of Egypt have not spared effort in trying to sabotage the democratic experience,” he added.
Hours before his speech, clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents killed at least one and injured about 230 people in the city of Mansoura, north of Cairo where Islamist supporters clashed with their opponents.
Earlier in the day, Egyptian military brought in reinforcements of troops and armour to bases near Egyptian cities ahead of expected June 30 protests, which will mark a year since Morsi took office.
‘I have made mistakes’
The speech began promptly as scheduled, when Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, offered greetings ahead of the major Islamic holiday of Ramadan, starting in about two weeks.
“I stand before you as an Egyptian citizen, not as the holder of an office, who is fearful for his country,” he said before saying he would review his first year in office.
“Today, I present an audit of my first year, with full transparency, along with a road map. Some things were achieved and others not,” Morsi said, without elaborating. “I have made mistakes on a number of issues.”
At one point, Morsi apologised for fuel shortages which have caused long lines at gas stations and have increased frustration and anger at the government. He also apologised to the nation’s youth for not doing enough to involve them in the new political system and ordered cabinet ministers and provincial governors to appoint assistants under the age of 40.
Thousands of anti-Morsi demonstrators gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which played a key role in the 2011 revolution, to watch the speech.
Those organising protests for Sunday – the anniversary of Morsi’s inauguration – say he must go because he has mismanaged the country, given a monopoly on decision-making to the Muslim Brotherhood and his Islamist allies and has encroached on the judiciary.