By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press
CAIRO (AP) — Leading Egyptian opposition figure Amr Moussa on Thursday urged the country's Islamist president to listen to the voices of the opposition and respond to their demands by holding early presidential elections.
In an interview with The Associated Press at his office in downtown Cairo, Moussa, a leading member of Egypt's main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, said the group is not calling for "the fall of the regime or staging a coup but heading to the ballot box" to change the president.
"Democracy should be the name of the game. Any change should be through democratic means," he said, adding: "Egypt needs real change in the way Egypt is managed."
Moussa's remarks came after President Mohammed Morsi delivered a lengthy speech late Wednesday ahead of opposition-led mass rallies on June 30 that aim to force him from office, claiming he has failed in office.
In his 2 ½-hour address, Morsi defended his performance in his first year in office, admitting to making mistakes but also claiming achievements. He offered no compromises in the confrontation with his opponents.
Those organizing the protests for Sunday — the anniversary of Morsi's inauguration — say he must go because he has mismanaged the country, given a monopoly on decision-making to the Muslim Brotherhood and his Islamist allies and has encroached on the judiciary.
Commenting on the speech, Moussa said the president and his Islamist backers are "not taking the opposition seriously."
"They don't want to recognize that there is anger. They are missing the point, a major point," he said and added, "they are in a state of denial." He then addressed Morsi personally, saying: "take the voice of the people seriously ... and the angry comments as major expression of dissatisfaction. Please take that seriously and accept early elections."
Moussa urged protesters to remain peaceful and refrain from violence in order to "prevail."
"The worst case scenario is chaos and anarchy, and this worst case should be avoided by all means," he said, urging protesters: "please come out and show your strength ... protest and say what you want to say but peacefully, peacefully, and don't get into bloodshed."