Press Trust of India
Cairo/Tehran/London, 7 July
In another dramatic twist in the saga of political upheavals in Egypt, the new leadership wrangled over the choice of liberal leader Mohamed ElBaradei as Prime Minister, even as rallies for and against the ousting of President Mohammed Mursi raised fears of violence.
The rallies raised tension as the new coalition led by interim President Adly Mansour that backed Mr Mursi’s ouster wavered over the choice of Nobel Prize laureate ElBaradei as interim prime minister to lead the country out of the bloody crisis. Mr ElBaradei met with interim President Adly Mansour for two hours yesterday afternoon, and “discussions and consultations are ongoing,” presidential adviser Ahmed al-Muslimani said on state-run TV. “Tomorrow we expect to name the prime minister and the ministers.”
He added that Mr ElBaradei was “the logical choice” among a list of names being considered.
If 71-year-old Mr ElBaradei is selected, it would signal a secular shift just days after a military coup ousted nation’s first democratically elected president Mursi.
Officials had earlier named Mr ElBaradei, a former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, for the post of Prime Minister. News of his appointment was criticised by the Salafist Nour Party, which said it would not work with him.
Reports of the appointment of Mr ElBaradei caused anger among supporters of Mr Mursi, who want to see him returned to power. Supporters and opponents of the ousted president planned rival demonstrations today, with the former demanding Mursi’s reinstatement and the latter supporting Mr Mursi’s overthrow.
A coalition supporting 61-year-old Mr Mursi’s reinstatement called for protests today to reject Wednesday’s “military coup” by Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. The initial reports of Mr ElBaradei’s appointment were greeted with cheers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Ittihadiya presidential palace. The celebrations came after 24 hours of violence that left 37 people dead and over 1,400 injured.
Security was heightened around the defence ministry today as supporters and opponents of ousted President Mursi were expected to stage demonstrations in Rabea al-Adawiya and Tahrir Square.
Yesterday, tens of thousands of angry supporters of the ousted president, chanted slogans like “down with military rule”, took to the streets after Friday prayers demanding his reinstatement. In the capital, the protesters holding images of Mr Mursi marched towards the Republican Guards Club, where Mr Mursi is believed to have been put “under guard” since Wednesday night.
Despite warning from soldiers, the crowd tried to storm the Guards headquarters, prompting the soldiers to open fire ~ first into the air, then at the demonstrators, killing four demonstrators and wounding dozens, local media reported.
In running street battles in Cairo yesterday, more people died, including two at iconic Tahrir Sqaure, and scores of others injured, reports said.
The worst hit was coastal city of Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt, where street fighting and clashes yesterday left 12 people dead, mostly from gunshot wounds.
On the other hand, Brotherhood-led National Alliance in Support of Electoral Legitimacy vowed more protests in support of the deposed president.
Meanwhile, Iran, in its first official reaction to the toppling of Egypt’s democratically elected president by the military, is calling the move “improper”.
Mideast envoy Tony Blair has defended the Egyptian army’s ouster, saying the alternative would have been chaos. Calling himself a “strong supporter of democracy,” Blair said that democracy is not a substitute for decision making or a guarantee of effective government.