Egypt PM says won't rule out Brotherhood role in new govt

Egypt's Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi said on Thursday he does not rule out posts for the Muslim Brotherhood in a new cabinet, if the candidates are suitably qualified.

Beblawi, who was appointed on Tuesday, said he was still considering the makeup of the interim government after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi's ouster 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 told AFP in a telephone interview.

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

State media had quoted an aide to interim president Adly Mansour saying Beblawi would offer Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood some posts in the new government.

The offer has been rejected by the Islamists, who demand Morsi's reinstatement.

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

Beblawi said he had not yet reached out to potential ministers.

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

"I haven't talked to anyone because I want to have a clear idea of who I want to compose the government," he added.

Morsi's overthrow on July 3, after millions of protesters demanded his resignation, has severely polarised the country and set off a wave of bloody clashes.

Beblawi's government is meant to stay in place until presidential elections next year, which may take place in the spring according to president Mansour's transitional plan.

The government will have to tackle a battered economy sustained heavily by foreign aid, and which continued deteriorating during Morsi's one-year term.

Beblawi, 76, a respected economist, had previously served as finance minister and deputy premier under interim military rule after president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in early 2011.

He resigned in protest after soldiers cracked down on a Coptic Christian protest in October 2011, killing over 20 Christians in the clashes.

As finance minister, Beblawi helped persuade the military rulers at the time to accept on principle a loan from the International Monetary Fund that could restore investor confidence.

But the talks, which dragged on into Morsi's presidency after he won a June 2012 election, floundered as Morsi delayed unpopular economic reforms, including a tax hike and slashing fuel subsidies.