Egypt’s President Mohammed 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 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.
Earlier in the day, Egyptian military brought in reinforcements of troops and armour to bases near Egyptian cities ahead of expected June 30 protests.
‘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, which began on June 30 – a date protesters have chosen for mass rallies which they hope can force him to resign.
“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.”
Thousands of opponents gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which played a key role in the 2011 revolution, to watch the speech.
Hours before he spoke, two people were killed and more than 200 were treated for injuries in the city of Mansoura, north of Cairo, when Islamist supporters clashed with their opponents – the latest street fighting over the past few days that many fear may presage a massive showdown in the streets this weekend.