Qena protesters reject dialogue with govt

A delegation of public figures sent by the military on Tuesday failed to persuade protesters in an Egyptian governorate to engage in dialogue over their demands for a new governor.

The Supreme Council of Armed Forces sent Islamic preachers Mohamed Hassan and Safwat Hegazy and former parliamentarian Mostafa Bakry to talk with protesters demanding a new governor in Qena, Bakry said.

Qena residents have staged a sit-in in front of the governorate headquarters and blocked train movement since Saturday to express their rejection of newly-appointed Coptic Governor Emad Shehata Mikhail.

Mikhail was appointed to succeed another Copt, Magdi Ayoub. Some protesters want a Muslim governor, while others are angered by Mikhail's appointment because he was a police major general under the former regime.

The delegation met with about 100 people who represent the different tribes in the governorate and the protesters. It asked them to give the government a week to solve the problem and to allow the movement of trains.

The protesters threatened escalation if a new governor is not appointed by Friday.

The delegation then addressed a crowd of tens of thousands of protesters who had gathered in the area.

"Your demands are our responsibility," Hassan told the crowd.

Hegazy described the statements given by Deputy Prime Minister Yehia al-Gamal, who said the governor of Qena will remain, as "irresponsible."

"We have come here as scholars, not as deceitful politicians," he said. "Qena will not have anyone but the governor its people want."

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