Liberals chosen to lead interim Government in Egypt

Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and Hazem El-Beblawi given top positions


Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was yesterday confirmed as Egypt’s vice president for foreign affairs and liberal economist Hazem El-Beblawi named as caretaker prime minister as tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters vowed to continue their campaign to reinstate deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

Mr ElBaradei, former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had been the first choice for premier of the secular coalition which mounted the demonstrations that ousted Mr Morsi. He was vetoed by the ultra-orthodox Nour Party, the sole fundamentalist faction in the loose grouping.

A well-known figure on the world stage, Mr ElBaradei is expected to try to convince global powers to give the interim authorities time to effect the transition to democracy disrupted by the Brotherhood’s majoritarian rule.

Back on track
A founder of the Social Democratic Party, who served briefly as finance minister during military rule after the fall of president Hosni Mubarak, Mr Beblawi has the task of putting the country’s ailing economy back on track.

In a bid to boost economic recovery, the United Arab Emirates has said it will provide Egypt with a $1 billion grant and a $2 billion interest free loan. Saudi Arabia has pledged $5 billion.

Egypt’s military chief and defence minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi warned against efforts to disrupt the transition, insisting that the “future of the nation is too important and sacred for manoeuvres or hindrance”.

He also threatened measures against protesters “crossing the line” during demonstrations after 54 people were killed in Monday’s violence between Brotherhood supporters and troops. Some 650 persons allegedly involved are facing charges of murder, intent to murder, thuggery, possession of unlicenced weapons and terrorism.

Controversial roadmap
General Sisi also proclaimed the army’s support for the roadmap put forward by interim president Adly Mansour, although the document was condemned by the Brotherhood and criticised by the secular opposition.

Senior Brotherhood figure Essam El-Erian said the plan to amend the constitution and submit a new text to referendum took the country back to “square one” while the Tamarod movement – which convinced millions of Egyptians to demonstrate to remove Mr Morsi – expressed its surprise over the lack of consultation.

Tamarod spokesman Mahmoud Badr said the document was “not presented to us or [Mr.] ElBaradei”, representatives of the opposition in negotiations over the plan for the transition period. He said they would propose amendments.

“We are keen to ensure the success of the transitional phase until the end,” he said, aware that the original transition, launched in 2011 was stalled by the military, which had assumed power at that time.

He urged Egyptians to remain in the streets and squares until a new government was formed and the roadmap was being implemented.