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Incidents stoke Mursi-opposition feud.

Cairo: A series of deadly incidents have provided fodder to the Egyptian opposition's campaign against the Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, who is also facing daunting social and economic woes.On Wednesday, an apartment building collapsed in Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city, killing 28 people. Local officials said the building was constructed six years ago without a permit, reasoning that did not impress critics of the Islamist-led government. The independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, an outspoken critic of Mursi, on Thursday hit the stands with a banner headline screaming: "Mourning from southern Egypt to Alexandria."

Earlier in the week a train crash on Tuesday in Badrasheen, south of Cairo, that left 19 security conscripts dead, hundreds of opponents rallied to the Egyptian capital's main railway station to protest what they called Mursi's failure to overhaul the country's rickety public services.

"The people want to change the regime," the protesters chanted, echoing a slogan repeated during an 18-day revolt that toppled his predecessor Hosni Mubarak almost two years ago.

The rail disaster came two months after 51 schoolchildren were killed when their bus was hit by a train in Assiut in southern Egypt, an accident blamed on a dozing signal operator.

"Egypt's tragedy is not due to the affiliation of who is in power. It is due to an absence of ability to run the country," said opposition leader Muhammad Al Baradei. "The state is falling apart and failure is worsening with the people being the victim," he wrote in a tweet.

The mostly secular opposition's scathing criticism of Mursi comes on the heels of a political feud between both sides over the adoption of an Islamist-drafted constitution.

Mursi enraged the opposition, led by Al Baradei, when he insisted on calling for a referendum on the charter, described by critics as too Islamist and undermining key freedoms. The constitution was approved last month by a slim margin, with almost two thirds of voters having stayed away.

Earlier this month, Mursi was criticised even by his Islamist allies for keeping Hesham Qandil, a low-profile technocrat, as head of the government and asking him to reshuffle the cabinet. Mursi's detractors also claim he is ruling the country at the command of the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails.

"We are condemned to catastrophes under a ruling system, which day after day proves to be a failure," said Ebrahim Mansour, a column writer. "It was never inconceivable that after a revolution in which the whole people took part, the state of affairs would remain the same. It is even worse," added Mansour. Egypt is pushing for a $4.8 billion (Dh17.6 billion) loan from the International Monetary Fund to prop up a battered economy.

Mursi's supporters, however, say the blame for the country's fatal mishaps should be laid on nearly 30 years of misrule under the Mubarak regime.

"Recurrent train tragedies are a proof of an almost-comprehensive collapse of the infrastructure due to years of corruption under Mubarak," said Sa'ad Al Katatni, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice. He called on the opposition to "leave behind political differences" and join hands to "rebuild Egypt".

Apparently spurning the call, the opposition has vowed to hold massive protests against Mursi on January 25, which marks the second anniversary of the eruption of the uprising against Mubarak.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Jan 18, 2013
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