US envoy visits Egypt for talks
Talks with military come as Egypt’s interim prime minister finalises cabinet
It was not clear whether Mr Burns would meet members of the Brotherhood during his visit, which is scheduled to end tomorrow. The country’s biggest Islamist force has said it wants nothing to do with the political transition.
The second main Islamist movement, the Nour Party, broke ranks with the Brotherhood and supported the military’s political “road map”, although it has distanced itself somewhat since the shootings at the military compound.
A senior party official said today that Nour had turned down an invitation to meet Mr Burns because of what he called “unjustified interference in Egyptian internal affairs and politics” by the United States.
In a speech to a hall full of military officers yesterday, Gen Sisi justified the takeover. He said the president had lost legitimacy because of the mass demonstrations against him.
The general, whose intervention is popular with many Egyptians, said he tried to avert the need for unilateral action by offering Mr Morsi the option of holding a referendum on his rule, but “the response was total rejection”.
Sisi also insisted the political process remained open to all groups - though the Muslim Brotherhood has shunned dealings with “usurpers”.
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad dismissed the speech. “The guy is either lying or his troops are operating without his knowledge, because the only thing we are seeing from him are arbitrary arrests, confiscation of assets and killing of our protesters,” he said.
Mr Morsi has been held incommunicado at an undisclosed location since he was removed from power. The authorities have not charged him with a crime, but said on Saturday that they were investigating complaints against him over spying, inciting violence and wrecking the economy.
The public prosecutor said it had ordered the freezing of the assets of 14 Brotherhood and other Islamist leaders.
Thousands of Mr Morsi’s followers have maintained a vigil at a crossroads near a mosque in northeast Cairo, where they have braved brutal summer heat and daytime fasting during Ramadan to push their demand for the leader to be reinstated.
According to the state Mena news agency, army helicopters flew over the crowd late last night and dropped fliers exhorting them to renounce violence and end their sit-in.
Mr Morsi’s opponents have also called for demonstrations today, though their protests are attracting far fewer people now that they have achieved their aim of bringing him down.
Interim prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi has appointed most key ministers, including US-educated economist Ahmed Galal as finance minister.
His job will be to rescue an economy wrecked by two and a half years of political turmoil since autocrat Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising in 2011.
Mr Beblawi’s challenge is setting up a government that will appear inclusive without the Brotherhood.