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Egypt's army chief defends ousting president

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm •  Published: July 14, 2013
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El-Sissi appealed to all parties, in an apparent nod to Morsi's supporters, to participate in the new transition, saying it is overseen by an unbiased leader and will restore the right of people to choose.

But continuing its crackdown on the Brotherhood leadership, Egypt's new chief prosecutor ordered frozen the assets of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and at least 13 other senior members of the group pending investigations into deadly violence outside the organization's headquarters in Cairo and the Republic Guard forces club.

Meanwhile, the military-backed government pressed forward with its transition plan. ElBaradei, a 71-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, was sworn in as vice president for international relations, although his exact mandate was not clear. The former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog based in Vienna, returned home to assume a role in the anti-Mubarak uprising and became one of the most visible leaders in the badly fractured Egyptian liberal and secular opposition to Morsi's government.

Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front, a coalition of largely secular groups, said ElBaradei was no longer the head of the umbrella organization.

Designated prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi also met with a number of candidates for his new Cabinet, which is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

Others expected on the roster are Mohammed Mukhtar Gomaa — who works in the office of the head of the top learning institute in the Muslim Sunni world Al-Azhar — as head of the religious endowment ministry. Gomaa, who also heads the faculty of Islamic and Arabic studies in Al-Azhar university, was seen as nod to moderate Islam.

The fast-track transitional timetable included also appointing two panels to amend the constitution passed under Morsi. Those changes would be put to a referendum within about 4 1/2 months, followed by parliamentary elections and the presidential elections.

Violence in the aftermath of Morsi's ouster peaked a week ago Monday when the military opened fire on Brotherhood supporters who were holding a sit-in outside the Republican Guard forces club, leading to hours of clashes. More than 50 protesters were killed and hundreds wounded. The Brotherhood claimed the military opened fire on protesters, while the army says it was responding to Morsi supporters trying to storm the Republican Guard building.

Human Rights Watch said it appeared that "the military and police used unnecessary force" and that prosecutors have investigated only Brotherhood supporters and leaders for their alleged roles in the clashes, but not security forces.

"It is not clear from the footage which side used live ammunition first," according to HRW's statement Sunday, which added that "what is clear... is that the army responded with lethal force that far exceeded any apparent threat to the lives of military personnel."

Meanwhile, violence was on the rise in the restive Sinai peninsula. Soon after midnight, militants fired a missile at a moving armored police vehicle south of North Sinai's capital el-Arish, hitting instead a nearby bus carrying workers going to a local cement factory, security officials said. Three factory workers were killed and 16 were injured, including three in serious condition, medical officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Security officials said militants also blew up a police station under construction in central Sinai by detonating explosive devices, leaving a resident seriously injured.

The secretary general of the Brotherhood's political arm, Hussein Ibrahim, condemned the violence on his Facebook page. Ibrahim called the attacks "staged" with the intention of dragging the country toward violence, and in turn justifying "the coup against legitimacy."

Militant groups have lashed out following the military ouster of Morsi, targeting police stations and security checkpoints and vowing to drive the military out of the area.

In the past 10 days, at least eight security officers have been killed. Christians in the area have also been targeted. Two Christians were killed, one a priest. A gas pipeline to Jordan was bombed, ending a lull in such strikes.

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Associated Press Writer Ashraf Sweilam contributed to this report from el-Arish, Egypt.