Egypt PM does not rule out Brotherhood role in govt

Egypt's premier said Thursday he does not rule out Muslim Brotherhood members in his cabinet, even as the group vowed to keep defying the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

Hazem al-Beblawi, who was appointed on Tuesday, told AFP in a telephone interview he was still considering the makeup of his interim government after Morsi's overthrow in a popular military coup last week.

"I don't look at political association... If someone is named from (the Brotherhood's) Freedom and Justice Party, if he is qualified for the post" he may be considered, Beblawi said.

"I'm taking two criteria for the next government. Efficiency and credibility," he added.

"So far I haven't approached anyone," Beblawi said, adding that he wanted to decide on the best candidates before asking them to join the government.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has already rejected a Beblawi offer to join the new government, and called a mass rally on Friday against what it called "a bloody military coup".

Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref said the group "will continue in our peaceful protest until the fall of the military coup and the return of legitimacy," in comments on the Brotherhood website.

The developments come more than a week after Morsi was overthrown by the military, sparking deadly clashes and deepening divisions in the Arab world's most populous country.

Meanwhile, the United States said it was pressing ahead with plans to deliver four F-16 fighters to Egypt, a US official said.

There was no decision to halt the scheduled transfer of the warplanes or to cut off other security assistance to Egypt, the official said on condition of anonymity, even though Washington has announced a review of all aid to Cairo.

President Barack Obama's administration has said it is examining whether the military takeover constitutes a coup, which under US law would force Washington to freeze any aid to Egypt.

In Cairo, an anti-Morsi camp was also planning a rally, to mark the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, following weekly prayers in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, raising the possibility of further violence following a week of bloodshed after Morsi's July 3 ouster.

In the bloodiest incident, clashes around an army building on Monday left 53 people dead, mostly Morsi supporters.

Police were hunting the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, after a warrant was issued for his arrest on Wednesday, in connection with the violence.

Badie and other senior Brotherhood leaders are wanted on suspicion of inciting the clashes, judicial sources said.

Last week 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.

After a year in power through Morsi, the Brotherhood is now in tatters, with much of its leadership detained, on the run or keeping a low profile.

Morsi himself 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."

Military and judicial sources have said the ousted leader may face charges eventually.

His overthrow by the military after nationwide protests demanding his resignation has plunged Egypt into a vortex of violence.

The Brotherhood accuses the army of "massacring" its supporters in Monday's incident, and the army says soldiers were attacked by "terrorists" and armed protesters.

The public prosecutor pressed charges on Wednesday against 200 of 650 people detained during the violence.

In the restive Sinai peninsula, a Coptic Christian man was found decapitated on Thursday five days after gunmen kidnapped him, security officials and witnesses told AFP.

Analysts had highlighted the danger of extremists exploiting tensions and unrest across Egypt since Morsi's overthrow.

On the political front, Adly Mansour, the military-appointed caretaker president, has set a timetable for elections by early next year.

Opponents and supporters of Morsi alike have criticised the interim charter he issued on Monday to replace the Islamist-drafted constitution and to steer a transition the army has itself acknowledged will be "difficult".

An official with one party in the National Salvation Front (NSF), the main coalition formerly led by ElBaradei, criticised Mansour's 33-article declaration for according extensive powers to the interim president.

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.

The Brotherhood's demise has been applauded by three Gulf states, which quickly stepped in to help prop up Egypt's faltering economy.

Kuwait on Wednesday pledged $4 billion in cash, loans and fuel, with Saudi Arabia offering a total of $5 billion and the United Arab Emirates $3 billion.