Caretaker president in Egypt swears in new cabinet as violent clashes continue
Muslim Brotherhood refuses posts saying post-Morsi government is illegitimate
Interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour, left, meets with writers and intellectuals at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt. Photograph: AP Photo
Egypt’s caretaker president Adly Mansour yesterday inducted the country’s new 35-member cabinet, headed by Hazem El-Beblawi, just two weeks after president Mohamed Morsi was deposed by the army at the behest of millions of Egyptians protesting in the streets against his rule.
The line-up includes seven hold-overs from Mr Morsi’s government, including Gen Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in defence and Mohamed Ibrahim in interior, as well as three women who hold the health, environment, and information portfolios.
Egypt’s UN ambassador Nabil Fahmy is foreign minister and independent trade unionist Kamal Abu Eita, a leading figure in the uprising, man power minister. Several are technocrats charged with rescuing the economy, which has been in freefall for the past year, and guiding the stalled transition from autocratic to democratic rule.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is boycotting the post- Morsi transition process, and its former ally the ultraorthodox Salafi Nour party, refused posts. “This is an illegitimate government, an illegitimate prime minister, an illegitimate cabinet. We don’t recognise anyone in it,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said.
The cabinet was sworn in some 16 hours after seven people were killed, 261 injured and 401 arrested when pro-Morsi marchers left their sit-in site near Cairo University and made for the October 6th bridge across the Nile and Ramsis Square where a central market and the railway terminal are located.
Police sources said four deaths near the university occurred during clashes with inhabitants of the quarter. Last week 12 residents of the Manial neighbourhood were killed when Brotherhood elements entered the area en route to the state television building next to Tahrir Square.
Some 400 Brotherhood activists holed up in a mosque in Ramsis Square, were delivered to safety by residents who have formed popular committees to keep Brotherhood supporters from entering the neighbourhood. Similar committees have been established to defend Tahrir Square, the cradle of the uprising and the main platform of the leftists, nationalists, liberals and secularists who now command the streets and squares.
The Tamarod (Rebel) movement which organised the countrywide protests that brought down Mr Morsi denounced the clashes as “violence by Muslim Brotherhood militias” and called on the security forces to “quickly arrest leaders who incite . . . violence”.
Threat against sit-ins
The anarchist Black Bloc, which deploys armed and hooded youths at secular rallies to counter Brotherhood attacks, has threatened to act against Brotherhood sit-ins if they are not dispersed by the August 8th feast that ends the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The Egyptian Current party, formed by Muslim Brotherhood youth who defected in 2011, denounced police action against the marchers.
Marches and rallies outside Brotherhood camp sites near Cairo University and in Nasr City are seen as an escalation of the movement’s campaign to put pressure on the army to reinstate Mr Morsi, although there is no possibility that this demand will be met.
Instead, the Brotherhood and its allies are to be offered reconciliation talks. Presidential media adviser Ahmed El-Moslimany has said that these talks will not constitute dialogue among political forces involving bargaining over policies and positions but will consist of negotiations with “psychological, social and moral dimensions” that aim to “achieve consensus and bridge any gaps within Egyptian society” with the aim of achieving “civil peace”.
The Brotherhood, however, remains defiant. Mohamed El-Beltagy, hard line deputy head of the movement’s Freedom and Justice Party, accused the secular opposition and army of “reconciling with the Mubarak regime . . . not the Egyptian people”.
Since Mr Morsi’s removal up to 110 people, most of them Brotherhood supporters, have been killed in clashes.