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Violence erupts outside Egypt presidential palace

By Hamza Hendawi

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5 2012 12:19 p.m. MST

Brotherhood leaders have been calling on the opposition to enter a dialogue with the Islamist leader. But the opposition contends that a dialogue is pointless unless the president first rescinds his decrees and shelves the draft charter.

Vice President Mahmoud Mekki called for a dialogue between the president and the opposition to reach a "consensus" on the disputed articles of the constitution and put their agreement in a document that would be discussed by the next parliament. But he said the referendum must go ahead and that he was making his "initiative" in a personal capacity not on behalf of Morsi. He put the number of clauses in disputes at 15, out of a total of 234.

Speaking to reporters, ElBaradei said there would be no dialogue unless Morsi rescinded his decrees and shelved the constitution draft. Asked to comment on Mekki's offer, he said: "With all due respect, we don't deal with personal initiatives. If there is a genuine desire for dialogue, the offer must come from President Morsi."

The charter has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women and minority groups, and many journalists see it as restricting freedom of expression. Critics also say it empowers Islamic religious clerics by giving them a say over legislation, while some articles were seen as tailored to get rid of the Islamists' enemies.

If the referendum goes ahead as scheduled and the draft constitution is adopted, elections for parliament's lawmaking lower chamber will be held in February.

AP reporters Maggie Michael and Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report.

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