CAIRO Egypt's president declared on Sunday a state of emergency for 30 days in three cities along the Suez Canal that have been the scene of the worst violence that flared across the country at the weekend, killing 49 people.
Mohamed Mursi, propelled to an election victory in June by the Muslim Brotherhood, made the announcement in a televised address after four days of clashes.
The Brotherhood had long accused Mursi's ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak of using a state of emergency imposed on the nation for decades to suppress dissent and round up the group's members without proper trials.
"I promised not to take extraordinary measures unless I was forced to, and here I am doing so. I announce a state of emergency in the cities of Ismailia, Suez and Port Said for a period of 30 days," Mursi said in a televised address.
He said the state of emergency would start at midnight.
"The protection of the nation is the responsibility of everyone. We will confront any threat to its security with force and firmness within the remit of the law," Mursi said.
He offered condolences to the families of those who had been killed.
In an attempt to sooth the opposition and cool tempers before a parliamentary election due in the next few months, Mursi called on politicians and political groups to join a dialogue to help end the crisis.
He said that further details on that dialogue would be issued shortly.
(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Louise Ireland)