The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has rejected an appeal for a return to dialogue between the country’s political factions made by the interim prime minister, according to a spokesperson.
“Now I see we have to return to harmony. Divisions cannot last,” Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in an interview with state television on Saturday, an address aimed at calming the political crisis that has gripped Egypt since president Mohamed Morsi was deposed more than two weeks ago.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has denounced his ousting as a military coup and has said it will not enter into any dialogue until he is restored to power.
The Brotherhood said Beblawi represents a government put in place by the military.
“There can be no dialogue when the gun barrels are pointing towards the anti-coup protesters,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said in response to Beblawi’s comments.
Beblawi said the post he accepted was “a heavy burden, but it is an important mission, and I feel honoured”.
In a lengthy speech, he also spoke about Egypt’s economic crisis, and the policies that may be adopted to combat it.
The interim PM, whose government is devoid of any Islamist representation, said that “harmony and reconciliation” were the need of the hour.
Constitution to be drafted
Earlier on Saturday, Egypt’s interim president appointed a 10-member committee of experts to amend the constitution that was suspended following the military’s overthrow of Morsi, the presidency said.
Under a decree issued by the caretaker president, Adly Mansour, the committee, which consists of four university professors and six judges, will begin its work on Sunday.
The committee members will have 30 days to make their amendments, which will then be presented to a 50-person body representing different groups in Egyptian society.
The larger panel will include members of political parties and trade unions, religious officials and army officers, and will in turn have another two months to make final changes to the draft before submitting it to the president.
Mansour will then have 30 days to call a referendum on the charter.
Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, reporting from Cairo, said Beblawi dedicated time to speaking about both the economy and the security situation.
“The interim government seems focused on how to push forward its reputation both locally and internationally as well. It has been a full day of politics.”
Morsi’s government adopted the controversial previous constitution by referendum in December 2012 with a majority of 64 percent, but a voter turnout of just 33 percent.
Opposition politicians and members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community denounced the Muslim Brotherhood-drafted text, which was also criticised by UN rights chief Navi Pillay for curtailing certain rights, including those of non-Muslims.
Egypt’s caretaker president issued a charter last Monday outlining the timetable for the constitutional reforms, as well as fresh parliamentary and presidential elections due to be held early next year.
Shortly after it was announced, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood rejected the temporary charter as a decree enforced by “putschists”.