by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Egypt is undergoing chaos and disorder following Jan. 25 nationwide anti-government protests and then the bloody clashes in Port Said and other governorates, including capital Cairo, urging President Mohamed Morsi to offer a compromise and invite opposition for dialogue to contain the ongoing crisis.
However, the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front (NFS), turned down Monday the invitation and preconditioned presidential guarantees including constitutional amendments, formation of a national salvation government, sacking current prosecutor-general and subjecting Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group to the law.
It seems that their positions have been switched, as opposition in the past used to seek dialogue with the government, but now the president seeks dialogue with opposition and the latter declines.
Morsi said Tuesday, "I am ready to communicate personally with the NSF leaders and members and re-invite them for dialogue," according to official reports.
The NSF, however, sees that Morsi's invitation for dialogue should have been restricted to the effective political forces in the arena in order to be efficient and practical.
"There must be a new beginning for dialogue, based on specific principles and rules," leading NSF member Wahid Abdel-Meguid told Xinhua, stressing only the three main political forces should take part in dialogue, namely the NSF, the MB's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafist al-Nour Party, arguing the three represented 90 percent of Egypt's political field.
At a press conference Tuesday, the presidency said that the opposition's demand of sacking the current government and forming a salvation one would be difficult and not in favor of Egyptians as it would take a long time.
"This is just a lame excuse," said Abdel-Meguid, "as the current government does not meet the Egyptians' aspirations and is unable to deal with the current economic and political crises."
"Although the opposition has its own diseases, their rejection of dialogue is justified," said Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor at Cairo University. "They had a previous dialogue with the president about the constitution, but the presidency was not committed to its recommendations and Morsi then issued a controversial constitutional declaration, creating an atmosphere of mistrust."
In the NFS absence, Morsi presided a national dialogue late Monday that gathered a number of conservative and moderate Islamists, Salafists as well as liberal political figures, during which they agreed to form a committee to amend the controversial articles of the constitution in response to opposition demands.
While the move was commended by some political observers and opposition figures, it was deemed by some others as a more tactical than earnest attempt to contain the crisis.
The protests across Egypt since Jan. 25 killed dozens and injured over 1,000. The turmoil urged Morsi to impose a 30-day curfew and a state of emergency in the riot-hit governorates of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia.
After Monday's dialogue, Morsi compromised to limit or even lift the curfew imposed on the three governorates based on the progress of their security conditions.
The opposition argues that the presidency's rejection of immediate formation of a new government and the lack of clear agenda and concrete guarantees for implementation of dialogue results were main reasons for dissatisfaction.