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Egypt pushes transition, naming prime minister

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm •  Published: July 9, 2013

The interim president's spokesman, Ahmed el-Musalamani, said posts in the new Cabinet would be offered to the Islamist camp — including to the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafi Al-Nour Party. He spoke to Egypt's privately owned CBC TV channel in remarks also carried by the state news agency. El-Beblawi is to start forming a Cabinet on Wednesday.

The statement by armed forces chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi against political maneuvering underlined how the military — while it says it is staying out of politics — remains a powerful presence in a transition ostensibly being led by Mansour and a collection of political factions.

"The future of the nation is too important and sacred for maneuvers or hindrance, whatever the justifications," el-Sissi said in the statement, read on state TV. "The people and, behind it, the armed forces don't want anyone to stray from the right path or deviate from the boundaries of safety and security, driven by selfishness or ... zealousness."

A spokesman for Mansour announced the appointment of el-Beblawi as prime minister and of pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader of the National Salvation Front, as vice president.

The naming of a prime minister was held up for days because the sole Islamist faction in the coalition, the ultraconservative Al-Nour Party, blocked candidates from secular, liberal and leftist groups. Those factions have been determined to have one of their own in the post.

Last week, Al-Nour blocked ElBaradei from becoming prime minister, then objected to one of his close allies put forward as a compromise. The moves infuriated the secular and liberal factions. ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency and a Nobel Peace laureate, is considered one of the strongest pro-reform figures, but many Islamists vehemently oppose him as too secular.

El-Beblawi is from the liberal-secular camp — albeit a less-controversial, well-known or prominent figure than ElBaradei.

El-Sissi's statement appeared to be a veiled warning to Al-Nour. But it suggests the military is ready to apply pressure on politicians when multiple disputes are almost certain to emerge.

An Al-Nour spokesman, Ibrahim Abaza, told The Associated Press the party welcomed el-Beblawi's appointed. But like secular groups, it complained it is not being consulted. "Our objections are not only about nominations but the dictatorship of the new president, who takes decisions unilaterally without consultations and with clear bias against Islamist current," he said.

El-Beblawi, 76, was finance minister in one of the first Cabinets formed after autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 and the military stepped in to rule for nearly 17 months. But he resigned in protest in October 2011 after 26 protesters, mostly Christians, were killed by security forces in a crackdown on their march.

A Sorbonnne-educated economist, he has been a professor in several Egyptian universities and served for six years in the U.N. Social Economic Commission for Western Asia. After Mubarak's fall, he was one of the founders of the Egyptian Social Democratic party, one of several secular parties in the liberal grouping National Salvation Front, in which ElBaradei is a leading figure.

He called for dialogue between the new leadership and their Islamist opponents. "Everyone in Egypt must sit together on the table for dialogue to solve current political differences, stop violence and bloodshed in the street," he told the AP.

Under the timetable, two appointed panels would draw up and approve amendments to the constitution, which would be put to a referendum within 4½ months. Elections for a new parliament would be held within two months of that. Once the parliament convenes, it would have a week to set a date for presidential elections.

After Monday's bloodshed, authorities stepped up moves against Islamists.

The military accused armed Islamists of starting the violence by attacking the headquarters of the Republican Guard. Morsi supporters say no such attack took place and that troops opened fire on their nearby sit-in after dawn prayers. Along with 51 protesters, an army officer and two policemen were killed.

An Egyptian security official said 650 people were arrested for allegedly trying to storm the headquarters. The official said there were Syrian and Palestinian nationals among those arrested. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The general prosecutor announced that authorities confiscated weapons, knives and homemade explosives and bombs from the protest site and that investigations found that armed men have used rooftops of residential and government buildings to fire at the Republican Guard forces.

Egypt also chided the Islamist-rooted governments of Turkey and Tunisia that criticized the ouster of Morsi. The Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to complain of interference in internal affairs after Turkish officials called for U.N. intervention.