Egypt’s interim president held talks yesterday with the army chief and minister of the interior following an outburst of violence between supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi that killed at least 36 people across the country and deepened the battle lines in the divided nation.
Three days after the military pushed out Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, the country appears to be careening toward further conflict and turmoil. Morsi’s supporters have vowed to take to the streets until the toppled Islamist leader is reinstated, while his opponents have called for more mass rallies to defend what they call the “gains of June 30,” a reference to the start of massive protests to call for the ouster of the president.
With both sides digging in, Acting Egyptian President Adly Mansour met yesterday with Egyptian Army chief as well as Minister of Defense General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as well as Egyptian Minister of the Interior Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, at the Ittihadiya presidential palace.
It was the first time Mansour has worked out of the president’s main offices since he was sworn-in on Thursday as the country’s interim leader, a day after the military shunted Morsi aside after four days of protests that brought millions out into the streets.
Mansour also met yesterday with leaders of Tamrod, or Rebel, the youth movement that organized the mass anti-Morsi demonstrations, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Mansour was recently appointed by Morsi as chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, and had only been sworn in minutes before he took the oath of office as president.
He took the helm of a fiercely divided country.
Enraged by Morsi’s overthrow, tens of thousands of the ousted president’s supporters poured into the streets on Friday, holding rallies that they have vowed to continue until the former leader is returned to office.
Late on Friday, violence erupted in central Cairo as the rival camps clashed on a bridge over the Nile River. Gunfire crackled in the streets and flames leaped from a burning car. The chaotic scenes ended only after the army rushed in with armored vehicles to separate the warring groups.
The clashes had accelerated after the supreme leader of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, defiantly proclaimed his followers would not give up street action until the toppled president’s return to office.
“God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace,” Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie proclaimed on Friday before cheering supporters at a Cairo mosque in his first appearance since the overthrow. “We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives.”
Badie said it was a matter of honor for the military to abide by its pledge of loyalty to the president, in what appeared to be an attempt to pull it away from its leadership.
Hours later, his deputy, Khairat el-Shater, considered the most powerful figure in the organization, was arrested in a Cairo apartment along with his brother on allegations of inciting violence, Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif said.