(CAIRO) — Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is hoping to defuse the current political crisis by having President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents meet on Wednesday, just days before a referendum on Egypt’s new constitution is held.
According to a statement issued by the defense minister’s office, the meeting will involve Morsi, “cabinet members, the political elite, various political powers, revolutionary youth” and others.
While no one is expecting any great changes to come out of the meeting, the intent is to foster “a social dialogue, not a national political dialogue” so as to put Egyptians at ease after three weeks of tension caused by Morsi’s decree that stripped the country’s judiciary of any oversight on his actions.
However, there was more confusion on Tuesday as Egypt’s main association of judges said that nearly all members would not be on hand to monitor the referendum.
This would seemingly make the vote null and void since the laws in Egypt require judges to supervise the referendum to insure its fairness. According to Morsi, he has hired enough judicial officials to go forward with the vote that critics say will force Egypt into becoming an Islamist state.
In another development, Morsi’s government also cancelled a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund that was intended to prop up Egypt’s economy, explaining that this would give officials more time to discuss the package despite the country’s financial problems.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN