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Egypt orders Brotherhood chief held, Morsi in 'safe place'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Egypt issued a warrant on Wednesday for the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohammed Badie in connection with deadly violence in Cairo, stoking Islamist anger over the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

Badie and other senior Brotherhood leaders are wanted on suspicion of inciting Monday's violence outside the Republican Guard headquarters where Morsi supporters were demanding his reinstatement, judicial sources said.

Morsi is currently being held in a "safe place, for his safety," foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "He is not charged with anything up till now," he said.

The Islamist president's overthrow by the military last week, after nationwide protests demanding his resignation, has plunged Egypt into a vortex of violence.

More than 50 people died in Monday's violence, most of them Morsi supporters.

The Brotherhood says troops and police "massacred" its activists as they were performing dawn prayers, with women and children among the dead.

The army said it was responding to an attack by "armed terrorists".

According to the health ministry, 53 people died and 480 were wounded. It denied the Brotherhood's claim that there were women and children among the casualties.

The public prosecutor press charges on Wednesday against 200 of the 650 people it detained during the violence, judicial sources said.

The warrant for Badie's arrest was likely to make it harder for the interim civilian administration to be formed by prime minister-designate Hazem al-Beblawi to reach out to the Islamists.

The liberal former finance minister, who began talks on his cabinet line-up on Wednesday, is ready to offer the Brotherhood ministerial posts, the state-run MENA news agency quoted an aide as saying.

But the Islamists spurned the overture. "We do not deal with putschists. We reject all that comes from this coup," Brotherhood spokesman Tareq al-Morsi told AFP.

The Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), called for a "huge demonstration" at 10 pm (2000 GMT) Wednesday, to commemorate the victims of Monday's violence.

On Friday, Badie gave a fiery speech in which he vowed that Brotherhood activists would throng the streets in their millions until Morsi's presidency was restored.

Following Monday's bloodshed, the Brotherhood called for an "uprising".

Interim president Adly Mansour has set a timetable for elections by early next year, while appointing Beblawi as premier and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei as vice president for foreign affairs.

Opponents and supporters of Morsi alike have criticised the interim charter proposed by Mansour to replace the Islamist-drafted constitution which he suspended and steer the divided nation through a transition the army has itself acknowledged will be "difficult."

The Brotherhood had already rejected the charter as a decree enforced by "putchists", and cracks have now emerged in the loose coalition that backed Morsi's overthrow.

An official with one of the parties in the National Salvation Front (NSF), the main coalition formerly led by ElBaradei, said Mansour's 33-article declaration foresees new "legislative, executive and judicial powers" for the interim president.

"You would look like a hypocrite now. It makes it look as if you are not against dictatorship, just against a dictatorship that is not from your group," the official said.

Many within the coalition are wary of repeating the mistakes of the last military-led transition, between Hosni Mubarak's ouster in 2011 and Morsi's election in June 2012.

Human rights groups condemned the use of "excessive" force against Brotherhood supporters on Monday, and called for an independent investigation.

Amnesty International said its findings suggested "the use of disproportionate force by the security forces" and warned that unless they were reined in, "we're looking at a recipe for disaster".

The latest violence struck overnight in the Sinai Peninsula, where militants hit a police garrison with mortars and heavy machineguns, security officials said. Two people were also killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on an army checkpoint, medics said.

The United States, which provides $1.5 billion in mainly military aid to Egypt, said it was "cautiously encouraged" by the timetable proposed for a new presidential election.

Kuwait pledged $4 billion in assistance to Egypt, bringing the combined total pledged by Gulf Arab states since the coup to $12 billion.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130710/egypt-orders-brotherhood-chief-held-morsi-safe-place-0