Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi rejected as “absurd” opposition calls for an early election less than a year into his term of office, charging in comments published Friday that such calls violated the constitution.
“We are a country with a constitution and a legal system,” the Islamist Morsi said in the interview with leading state-owned daily Al-Ahram.
“We held a free and fair election and to talk of an early presidential election is absurd and illegitimate.”
Morsi was commenting on an opposition-backed campaign dubbed Tamarrod, Arabic for rebellion, which says it has gathered seven million signatures to a petition demanding that Morsi step down to pave the way for an early election.
The campaign’s mainly secular supporters, who include former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei and the April 6 movement which was one of the spearheads of the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, are calling for a mass protest on June 30, the first anniversary of Morsi’s taking office.
“Expressing opinions, taking peaceful action, complete freedom for everyone… freedom to form political parties, none of that worries me, on the contrary it makes me happy,” Morsi said.
“But breaking the law, resorting to violence or threatening to do so, that will not be tolerated or allowed.”
Morsi’s opponents accuse him of governing in the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party on whose ticket he ran in the presidential election, and of reneging on his promise to rule in the interests of all Egyptians.
His first year in office has been marred by sometimes deadly clashes between his supporters and opponents that have stoked political tensions.
Unidentified assailants petrol-bombed the opposition Tamarrod campaign’s central Cairo offices at dawn on Friday causing fire damage to the main entrance but no casualties, the official MENA news agency reported.