Egyptian security forces have delayed a plan to disperse supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi, after protesters braced for confrontation. However, some Islamist politicians appear ready to negotiate.
Police announced on Monday that they had canceled the planned dispersal because they feared violence after protesters reinforced the sit-ins at two major sites.
Morsi's supporters refused to abandon their protest camps on Monday, with some of the protesters holding sticks and iron bars and wearing helmets in anticipation of a crackdown.
Meanwhile armored troop carriers along with squads of soldiers were positioned outside a nearby police station.
A security source said the delay was partially because demonstrators had flocked to the camps after reports of an imminent crackdown.
Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said efforts were being made to resolve the situation through dialogue. The Interior Ministry has said that gradual measures would be taken to regain control of the areas, warning that it might use water cannons and tear gas.
The largest of the camps, set up in late June, is at the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque, in the eastern part of Cairo. Meanwhile, a smaller one has developed in Giza, close to Cairo University.
'A great message to all parties'
The Anti-Coup Alliance, which works with the Brotherhood, said the fact that people had been swift to join the main sit-in was "a great message to all parties that deserves our utmost respect." It urged police not to blockade the sit-ins. "Their rifles and bullets must only target enemies of Egypt," the group said.
Morsi's supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood appeared increasingly isolated on Monday as Egypt's second Islamist party, Al-Nour, indicated that it would take part in the drafting of a new post-Morsi constitution. Supporters of Morsi have demanded his reinstatement.
The United States on Monday urged Egypt's interim administration to stop all "politically motivated arrests and detentions." However, there was no specific mention of Morsi, whose detention in custody was extended by the Egyptian judiciary on Monday for a further 15 days.
The former president has been held at an undisclosed location after his removal from the presidency on July 3. He is due to be questioned over his alleged involvement in attacks on police stations and prison breaks in early 2011, during the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak.
rc/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
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