Brotherhood role in Egypt Cabinet not ruled out: PM


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - Page 1

Egypt’s interim prime minister yesterday said he does not rule out posts for the Muslim Brotherhood in his Cabinet if candidates are qualified, even as police cracked down on the Islamist group.

Hazem al-Beblawi, who was appointed on Tuesday, said in a telephone interview he was still considering the makeup of his interim government after former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow in a popular military coup last week.

“I don’t look at political association... If someone is named from [the Brotherhood’s] Freedom and Justice Party, if he is qualified for the post” he may be considered, Beblawi said.

“I’m taking two criteria for the next government. Efficiency and credibility,” he added.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already rejected an offer from Beblawi to join the new government, and called for a mass rally today against what it called “a bloody military coup.”

Meanwhile, an anti-Morsi camp is reported to be planning a Cairo rally to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan following weekly prayers today.

The rally planned in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, epicenter of the 2011 uprising that toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, raises the possibility of further violence following a week of bloodshed after Morsi’s ouster on July 3.

In the bloodiest incident, clashes around an army building on Monday left 53 people dead, mostly Morsi partisans.

Police were searching for the Brotherhood’s leader, Mohamed Badie, after a warrant was issued for his arrest on Wednesday, in connection with the violence.

Badie and other senior Brotherhood officials are wanted on suspicion of inciting the clashes, judicial sources said.

After a year in power through Morsi, the Brotherhood is now in tatters, with much of its leadership detained, on the run or keeping a low profile following Morsi’s overthrow.

Morsi himself is currently being held in a “safe place, for his safety,” foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told reporters on Wednesday, adding “He is not charged with anything up till now.”

His overthrow by the military, after nationwide protests demanding his resignation, has plunged Egypt into a vortex of violence.

In the restive Sinai Peninsula, a Coptic Christian man was yesterday found decapitated, five days after he was kidnapped by gunmen, security officials and witnesses said.

Thousands of Morsi supporters on Wednesday evening joined those camped out at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City, to break the daily Ramadan fast.

They vowed to leave only when Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president, is reinstated.

The Brotherhood accuses the army of “massacring” its supporters in Monday’s incident, and the army says soldiers came under attack by “terrorists” and armed protesters.

The public prosecutor pressed charges on Wednesday against 200 of the 650 people it detained during the violence.

Last week Badie gave a fiery speech in which he vowed that Brotherhood activists would throng the streets in their millions until Morsi’s presidency was restored.

Mansour, appointed caretaker president by the military following Morsi’s overthrow, has set a timetable for elections by early next year.

Opponents and supporters of Morsi alike have criticized the interim charter he issued on Monday to replace the Islamist-drafted constitution, which he suspended, and to steer a transition the army has itself acknowledged will be “difficult.”

An official with one of the parties in the National Salvation Front (NSF), the main coalition formerly led by Mohamed ElBaradei, criticized Mansour’s 33-article declaration for according extensive powers to the interim president.

The Brotherhood’s demise has been applauded by three Gulf states, who quickly stepped in to help prop up Egypt’s faltering economy.

Kuwait on Wednesday pledged US$4 billion in cash, loans and fuel, with Saudi Arabia offering a total of US$5 billion and the United Arab Emirates US$3 billion.