Conflicting reports suggest a deal could be in the works with Egypt's military rulers to let deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood save face and end a month of demonstrations by Morsi's supporters. The Independent reported Monday that the deal would allow Morsi to officially "resign" as Egypt's president and go into exile.
Ideas being floated around include giving the Muslim Brotherhood at least three ministerial posts in a new unity government.
Morsi has not been seen in public since Egypt's military announced on July 3 that he had been removed as president. Clashes between Brotherhood supporters seeking his restoration to power and Egyptian troops have left more than 100 people dead. Evidence shows that some of the deaths came as a result of incitement on behalf of Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and other Brotherhood leaders.
These clashes have prompted concern among many in the West that Egypt could spiral out of control and lead to civil war.
Brotherhood supporters remain encamped in eastern Cairo despite military threats to disperse them – an action that would no doubt result in a bloodbath.
Allegations of torture in Brotherhood encampments by Amnesty International have reinforced the view among Egyptian liberals that the Islamists are unfit for power. The human-rights watchdog reported that anti-Morsi supporters had informed them that Brotherhood loyalists had beaten them or subjected them to electric shocks or stabbings. At least eight bodies have shown up at the Cairo morgue bearing signs of torture, and at least five of them were discovered near pro-Morsi sit ins.
"The initiative will be made so that we can end the crisis and have the Brotherhood end their sit-ins," a military source told Reuters.
Brotherhood negotiators have begun privately conceding that Morsi will never return to power, but plans to try Badie and his deputy Khairat al-Shater on charges of inciting violence later this month could complicate matters.
An anonymous European Union (EU) official told The Independent that Morsi's allies may be willing to sacrifice Morsi's power in exchange for releasing the Brotherhood officials under the condition that they would refrain from political activism.
Egyptian military and presidential sources denied that talks had taken place or that any offers had been made to the Brotherhood, The Guardian reported Monday. A security source said that any deal must include the Brotherhood ending its sit-ins and protests.
The EU official's statement was contradicted in the Guardian report, which said that only those Brotherhood members who had "not incited violence against the state" could be released.
A Brotherhood official similarly denied that a deal had been reached.
"These are all lies," Gamal Heshmat, a member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party National Committee, told the Guardian. "The Brotherhood did not nor will it accept to make deals of this sort. Any resolution will have to be part of national reconciliation involving the national coalition that involves the Brotherhood and other groups opposing the coup."