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Egyptian president offers to form constitution-amending committee ahead of protests


08:18, June 27, 2013

CAIRO, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi offered on Wednesday to form an independent committee to amend the constitution, with the participation of all political forces and parties.

Morsi said so during a televised speech, only days before the planned massive protests against him to be held on June 30 which marks the first anniversary of his rule.

The president also called for forming a higher committee in charge of "national reconciliation."

Ahead of the Sunday protests which seek to oust Morsi and press for an early election, the embattled president said the country's youths were marginalized and their efforts could be used in the political arena, in forms of parties.

To placate the protesters, mainly the young ones, Morsi assigned all ministers and governors to have deputies younger than 40 years old.

"Oh.. protesters, keep it peaceful." Morsi told protesters that if they insist on going for demonstrations, the country would only slip into violence.

The National Security Council is responsible for taking all the necessary steps to maintain the country's security, he said, adding that "I stand before you as an Egyptian citizen, not as the holder of an office."

In his Wednesday remarks, which Morsi referred to as "a disclosure speech," the president admitted that he had made mistakes since he came to office in June 2012.

"I made efforts along with honest people, so sometimes I was right and sometimes I was wrong," the president said. "I bear my share of responsibility for the current conditions and I am working for correcting them."

Meanwhile, Morsi warned that political divisions in Egypt " threaten to paralyze" the country, blaming enemies of Egypt for hindering its new democracy.

"Egypt faces many challenges. The polarization has reached a stage that could threaten our democratic experience and paralyze the nation," he said, while promising reforms and calling for dialogue in a bid to calm down protesters ahead of Sunday's rallies.

He insisted that he was working for the goals of the " revolution" that toppled ex-President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. "For the revolution to reach its goals, there must be swift reforms at the root, in all the state's institutions and structures."

"I took responsibility for a country mired in corruption and was faced with a war to make me fail," said Morsi, who named some of his "enemies" including former rival in the presidential race, Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister.

He said that "fugitive Shafiq" had been conspiring against him to urge a coup against a freely-elected president.

"He is wanted and he is abroad plotting and instigating a coup to overthrow the current regime, which is a crime," said Morsi.

The president also took the chance to apologize to the Egyptian people for the ongoing fuel crisis, attributing it to acts of smugglers who trade fuel in the black market.

"A large part of the crisis is made-up," Morsi stressed, saying that the state would continue controlling the provision of petroleum to gas stations "through smart cards."

He said the licenses of some gas stations that declined to work and serve the citizens would be withdrawn.

Hours before Morsi's speech, clashes in Daqahliya governorate of Egypt killed at least two people and injured over 230 after supporters of Morsi staged a march calling for backing the legitimacy of the Islamist-oriented president.

Meanwhile, hundreds have flocked into the Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, the center of the massive demonstrations that led to the fall of Mubarak in 2011, in preparation for sit-ins. They are mainly from the "Rebel" campaign, which has over the months collected more than 15 million signatures against Morsi.

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