Update: Jama’a al-Islamiya denies callling for referendum

Jama'a al-Islamiya has denied a Reuters report quoting a senior official as saying that President Mohamed Morsy should hold a referendum on early presidential elections, just hours before the end of a 48-hour deadline set by the army to respond to mass protests.

The hardline Islamist group, in a brief statement published on its Facebook page, said: "Jama'a al-Islamiya and its political party, the Construction and Development Party, deny making a proposal for a referendum on early presidential elections."

It said it had, instead, introduced an array of solutions to the political crisis to be discussed with political groups. Suggestions would be announced soon, the statement said.

The group "adheres to the legitimacy of the elected president," the Jama'a al-Islamiya statement stressed.

Reuters had earlier quoted senior group leader, Tarek al-Zomor, as suggesting that a referendum on early polls would spare the president a military coup and save a bloodbath.

"This peaceful, constitutional transfer [of power] will spare blood," he told Reuters by telephone, adding that it would also protect the constitution that was passed into law in December.

He said the army's statement appeared to presage a coup, but this "can be avoided if the president decides to hold a referendum on early presidential elections."

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm