State television said on Friday that police do not plan to storm the Muslim Brotherhood`s sit-ins, but only to surround them, Reuters News Agency reported.
The statement comes after the Cabinet ordered the Ministry of Interior to deal with the sit-ins and take necessary measures "to confront violence and terrorism" there. The ministry pledged not to use violence except for self-defense and has been calling on protesters to leave the sit-ins since Thursday.
Meanwhile, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported on Friday that the Ministry of Interior will not be blocking roads leading to the sit-ins, counter to what was reported by certain media outlets.
In an interview with privately-owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said that the security plan to deal with the sit-ins is pending approval from the National Defense Council, a council of military and civilian leaders. He added that currently the plan is in its second phase, which is to surround the sit-ins, a move he expected to happen within the coming hours.
Some observers speculated that the seeming police retraction from dispersing the sit-ins may be in response to diplomatic efforts to contain the crisis that started when the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests demanding his resignation. The move stirred widespread protests by the deposed president`s supporters, as well as ongoing sit-ins in Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Square. Protests turning violent have left over three hundred dead over the past month.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visited Egypt twice last month, and was the first foreign official to meet with Morsi, who has been detained by the military in an unknown facility. The EU has been warning of the use of violence to evict the sit-ins.
Similarly, the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch also warned of the use of violence to evict the sit-ins.
Meanwhile, the US, which initially exhibited criticism of the military move to oust an elected president, has showed a change of policy when Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that Morsi`s toppling aimed at "restoring democracy." US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrives in Cairo on Friday to hold talks with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Reuters reported.
[This article originally appeared on Mada Masr.]