News Column

Egypt Cabinet Sworn in After Clashes Kill 7

July 16, 2013

Nehal El-Sherif, dpa

The first Egyptian cabinet since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was sworn in Tuesday.

Army chief and Defence Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the architect of Morsi's removal from power, retained his post while also gaining the title of deputy prime minister.

Morsi-appointee Mohamed Ibrahim retained his position as interior minister despite calls for his replacement by activists.

The cabinet announcement comes amid continuing unrest in Egypt, with seven killed and more than 260 injured in clashes between supporters of Morsi and police in Cairo late Monday.

The violence was sparked after police fired teargas at pro-Morsi protesters who were blocking a bridge. Clashes also erupted in two other areas of the capital.

The Interior Ministry said it arrested 404 people suspecting of rioting and attacking civilians and policemen.

The army removed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, after millions rallied nationwide demanding his removal. Al-Sissi has defended his decision by saying the military heeded the will of the people.

Judge Mohamed Amin al-Mahdi was appointed the minister of transitional justice and national reconciliation - a new position within in the interim government that is set to rule until fresh elections are held.

Nabil Fahmy, who was Egypt's ambassador to the United States from 1999 to 2008, was assigned the foreign affairs portfolio.

Economist Hazem Beblawy and Nobel Laureate Mohammed ElBaradei were appointed last week prime minister and vice president for international affairs.

The swearing-in coincided with talks between visiting US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour. It was the first visit by a US official since the army overthrew Morsi on July 3.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is also expected in Cairo Tuesday evening for talks with Egypt's interim leaders, al-Sissi and the foreign minister.

Supporters of the former Muslim Brotherhood-led government have vowed to continue protesting until Morsi's reinstatement.

Prosecutors have begun investigating complaints against senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood group, including their leader Mohamed Badei, for receiving gifts from US ambassador to Cairo, Anne W Patterson, and Qatar.

Other Islamist figures are also under investigation, including Abul Ela Mady and Essam Sultan, leaders of the al-Wasat party, which has been supporting the Brotherhood since they took the largest number of seats in the 2011 parliamentary elections.

The move is part of a series of investigations against members of the former ruling Islamist group on accusations of espionage, selling state land and embezzling public funds.

Prosecutors have issued arrest warrants and frozen the assets of senior members of the Brotherhood, whose leaders also face charges of inciting violence. Dozens have been killed in clashes since the army's overthrow of Morsi.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood accused the United States of "supporting the coup" against Morsi, claiming that Washington "spent 105 million dollars on local and foreign groups to spread chaos in Egypt."

The United States has been criticized by rival political groups for not siding with their goals.

In another development, Turkish President Abdullah Gul has demanded the immediate release of Morsi, whose whereabouts have been unknown since late June.

Gul made the remarks at a weekend meeting with new Egyptian ambassador to Turkey Abdurrahman Salahaddin, pro-government paper Today's Zama said Tuesday.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the Turkish statements, saying they show "an interference in Egyptian affairs and a lack of awareness of developments on the ground."

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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