Interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour yesterday named liberal economist Hazem al-Beblawi, a former finance minister, as the country’s new prime minister, presidential spokesman Ahmed al-Muslimani said.
Liberal opposition chief and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was named vice president for foreign relations, Muslimani said.
The appointments come almost a week after the military overthrew former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
ElBaradei was initially tipped to lead the Cabinet, but his nomination was rejected by the Salafist al-Nur party.
The announcement came just hours after the Muslim Brotherhood had rejected a new timetable announced by the military-backed interim leadership that sets a fast track for amending the nation’s Islamist-drafted constitution and holding new parliamentary and presidential elections by early next year.
The Tamarod campaign, which launched the protests that prompted Morsi’s ouster, also slammed the country’s interim charter as “dictatorial.”
The quick issuing of the transition plan showed how Egypt’s new leadership is shrugging off Islamists’ vows to reverse the military’s ousting of Morsi and wants to quickly entrench a post-Morsi political system.
Egypt’s military also likely aims to show the US and other Western nations that the country is moving quickly back to an elected civilian leadership.
Washington has expressed concern over the removal of Egypt’s first freely elected president, and if the US government determines that the army’s move qualifies as a coup it would have to cut off more than a US$1 billion in aid to Egypt, mostly to the military. US President Barack Obama’s administration has said doing so would not be in the US’ interests.
Egypt’s political divide was further enflamed on Monday by one of the worst single incidents of bloodshed in two-and-half years of turmoil. Security forces killed more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters in clashes at a sit-in by Islamists.
The military accused armed Islamists of sparking the fighting, but Morsi supporters said troops opened fire on them without provocation after dawn prayers.
Since then, the military and allied media have depicted the campaign to restore Morsi as increasingly violent and infused with armed extremists. Islamists, in turn, have talked of the military aiming to crush them after what they say was a coup to wreck democracy.
Essam el-Erian, a senior Brotherhood figure and deputy head of its Freedom and Justice Party, rejected the transition timetable, saying it takes the country “back to zero.”
“The cowards are not sleeping, but Egypt will not surrender. The people created their constitution with their votes,” he wrote on his Facebook page, referring to the constitution that Islamists pushed to finalization and was then passed in a national referendum during Morsi’s year in office.
He said the military and its allies were targeting “not just the president, but the nation’s identity, the rights and freedoms of the people and the democratic system enshrined in the constitution.”
Meanwhile, Tamarod took to its official Twitter account to reject the timetable.
“It is impossible to accept the [constitutional declaration — C.D.] because it founds a new dictatorship. We will hand over to the [military-installed caretaker] president an amendment to the C.D,” the group said.
Under the timetable issued on Monday by Mansour, two appointed panels would be created. One, made up of judges, would come up with amendments. The other, larger body consisting of representatives of society and political movements would debate the amendments and approve them.
The new constitution would be put to a referendum within four-and-a-half months from now. Elections for a new parliament would be held within two months of that. Once the new parliament convenes, it would have a week to set a date for presidential elections.
Meanwhile, authorities yesterday began questioning 650 people over their suspected involvement in Monday’s violence. The detainees, who were picked up over the past 24 hours, are accused of trying to storm the Cairo headquarters of the elite Republican Guard, judicial sources said.
This article has been updated since it was first published.