Connect to share and comment

Egypt new cabinet closer as prosecution probes Morsi

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Egypt's new prime minister planned further talks Sunday on forming a cabinet, as prosecutors looked at criminal complaints against ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and members of his Muslim Brotherhood.

Hazem al-Beblawi held talks Saturday with candidates for ministerial posts accompanied by vice president Mohamed ElBaradei, and the consultations will continue on Sunday.

The new cabinet could be unveiled by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Beblawi said he expected the cabinet to be made up of 30 ministries. Their top priorities would be to restore security, ensure the flow of goods and services and prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections.

He has set a timetable for elections by early next year.

Beblawi is working to a roadmap drafted by the military, which toppled Morsi on July 3 after millions took to the streets calling on him to step down.

Morsi, the first freely elected president of Egypt, has not been seen in public since. Interim leaders say he is being held in a "safe place, for his own safety".

The public prosecutor's office said Saturday it was looking into complaints filed against Morsi and other members of the Brotherhood, including its general guide Mohamed Badie, with a view to launching a formal investigation.

The complaints include spying, inciting violence and damaging the economy, although the prosecutor's office did not say who had made the allegations.

During his single year of turbulent rule, Morsi was accused of concentrating power in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, sending the economy into freefall and failing to protect minorities.

His supporters say his overthrow was a military coup and an affront to democracy. The Brotherhood has refused to join an interim government and tens of thousands of supporters took to the streets Friday to demand his reinstatement.

"There will be another mass protest on Monday," Tareq al-Morsi, a Brotherhood spokesman said Saturday.

Protesters will also march on Monday to the Cairo headquarters of the elite Republican Guard -- the scene of deadly violence seven days earlier, the spokesman told AFP. But he insisted it would be a peaceful protest.

In the worst single incident of the recent violence, clashes outside the Republican Guard headquarters killed 53 people on July 8, mostly Morsi supporters.

The Brotherhood accuses the army of "massacring" its activists. The army says soldiers were attacked by "terrorists" and armed protesters.

On Friday, Washington and Berlin called on the Egyptian military to release Morsi.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States wanted "an end to restrictions on Mr Morsi's whereabouts". Germany suggested the International Committee of the Red Cross should be granted access to him.

Rival demonstrators rallied in the capital on Friday, but while there had been fears of fresh violence, the evening passed off peacefully.

Tens of thousands of Islamist protesters gathered outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo's Nasr City to pray and break their fast together on the first weekend of the holy month of Ramadan.

Morsi supporters have been camping outside the mosque, where many Brotherhood leaders have been holed up, some wanted by authorities.

Firebrand Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazi, wanted by police for questioning on suspicion of incitement to violence, said the crowds would pursue their protests for "one or two months or even one or two years".

In a telephone call with Saudi King Abdullah on Friday, US President Barack Obama expressed "serious concern" about the violence since Morsi's overthrow, the White House said. Obama underscored the need to return to a democratically elected civilian government.

The US sends around $1.5 billion a year to Egypt, most of it military aid.

King Abdullah was the first foreign head of state to congratulate Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour, hours after he was named as Morsi's replacement.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab governments have pledged $12 billion in assistance to shore up the faltering economy.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Brotherhood chief Badie and other top Islamist leaders suspected of inciting violence.

Morsi opponents and supporters alike criticised an interim charter Mansour issued last Monday to replace the Islamist-drafted constitution.

In the Tunisian capital Tunis meanwhile, several thousand people demonstrated on Saturday to denounce Morsi's overthrow. The rally was called by Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda.

bur-jj/ami

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130713/egypt-new-cabinet-closer-prosecution-probes-morsi-0