CAIRO - Egypt's army chief will host national unity talks on Wednesday, seeking to end a growing political and economic crisis in the Arab world's most populous nation.
The meeting scheduled for 1430 GMT was called in response to a wave of protests since President Mohamed Morsi awarded himself sweeping powers on November 22 to push through a new constitution shaped by his Islamist allies, which is due to go to a referendum on Saturday.
"We will not speak about politics nor about the referendum. Tomorrow we will sit together as Egyptians," armed forces chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said at a gathering of army and police officials on Tuesday.
Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled him to power in a June election, were expected to attend, while the main opposition coalition said it would decide on Wednesday morning whether to participate. The opposition stayed away from an earlier reconciliation meeting called by Morsi last weekend.
Outside the presidential palace - where anti-Morsi protesters are demanding the Islamist postpone the vote on a constitution they say does not represent all Egyptians - there was skepticism tinged with some hope.