CAIRO, July 16: Egypt’s first interim government since the military toppled democratically and freely elected president Mohamed Morsi two weeks ago was sworn in on Tuesday, after deadly clashes between armed forces and the deposed president’s supporters.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the influential movement from which Mr Morsi hails, rejected the military-chosen 35-member cabinet, with spokesman Gehad El-Haddad telling AFP: “We don’t recognise its legitimacy or its authority”.
None of the newly military-appointed ministers are affiliated to any religious party or movement, with the Brotherhood and the Al-Nur party having both rejected calls for them to participate.
Egypt’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general behind the military coup that overthrew the Morsi elected government, was appointed first deputy prime minister and minister of defence in the regime headed by Hazem al-Beblawi.
The swearing in ceremony took place after overnight clashes in the heart of Cairo and in adjacent Giza, in which seven people were killed and 261 wounded, health officials said. Hundreds of protesters were also arrested.
It also came after US envoy Bill Burns — the most senior US official to visit since the military coup on July 3 — appealed for an end to the violence rocking the Arab world’s most populous nation.
But within hours of his statement, the Egyptian capital was rocked by violence for the first time since 54 unarmed Morsi supporters were shot dead by armed forces outside an elite army barracks early last week. Two people died in clashes around the central Ramses area near Tahrir Square, while another five were killed in Giza, emergency services told AFP.
A security source cited by state media said 401 protesters were arrested in the Ramses area alone. At least 17 military personnel were injured.
Thousands of Brotherhood supporters had poured onto the streets after the Iftar meal to demand the reinstatement of deposed president Morsi, who has been in military custody since his overthrow.
Some of them blocked the October 6 Bridge over the Nile in central Cairo, where security forces fired tear gas to drive them back.
The protesters responded by hurling rocks at the military personnel, triggering fresh volleys of tear gas, with clashes continuing in adjacent Ramses Square and elsewhere late into the night.
Egypt has been rocked by a wave of deadly attacks since the military coup, with the latest deaths bringing to more than 100 the number of people killed, according to an AFP tally of confirmed deaths.
Speaking a day earlier, the US envoy urged the military to avoid “politically motivated arrests” amid growing international unease at the crackdown on the Brotherhood.
The United States has refrained from saying Mr Morsi was the victim of a coup, which would legally require a freeze on some $1.5 billion in US military and economic assistance to Egypt.
Several leading Republican lawmakers have called for US aid to be cut because of the military’s removal of Mr Morsi.
The spokesman for the military-appointed interim president, Ahmed al-Muslimani, had urged all of the country’s political forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to take part in “national reconciliation” efforts.
But the Brotherhood has refused to play any part in the interim government unveiled on Tuesday, which included three women ministers, and three Coptic Christians.
During his one year of turbulent rule, Mr Morsi was accused of concentrating power in Brotherhood hands, sending the economy into ‘freefall’. But Mr Morsi’s supporters say his overthrow was an affront to democracy.
Egypt’s military-appointed new rulers voiced “strong resentment” on Tuesday at comments by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan backing Mr Morsi as the country’s only legitimate president.—AFP