Through the Wire

Egypt Braces for Trouble as Mansour Tries to Form Government

July 7, 2013
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Egypt’s interim president moved to pull together a government to restore order in the restive nation, while planned rallies by supporters and opponents of Islamist Mohamed Mursi today threatened to ignite new violence.

The turmoil convulsing Egypt after Mursi’s overthrow by the military last week turned deadly over the weekend, with clashes between the two camps on July 5 killing about three dozen people and wounding more than 1,000. The instability, along with new violence in the Sinai peninsula, prompted the military to deploy special forces to guard the Suez Canal, the state-run Ahram newspaper reported.

The military forced Mursi out last week, just a year into his term, after months of discontent with his leadership came to a head in days of mass protests. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand he step down, accusing him of betraying the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak by grabbing power for his Islamist backers and exacerbating Egypt’s economic plight and political rifts.

Adly Mansour, tapped by the military to steer the Arab world’s most populous nation after Mursi’s removal, has been working quickly to chart a course to extricate Egypt from its crisis.

To do so, he has to tread carefully between Egypt’s deeply riven camps, addressing the demands of Mursi’s opponents while trying to contain the rage that has erupted among Islamists who see their achievements under Mursi endangered by his ouster.

About-Face

The late-night turnabout yesterday in the appointment of Egypt’s next premier highlighted the challenges Mansour faces.

Nobel Peace laureate and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei posted on his Facebook page that he had accepted an offer of the job. Objections raised by the Salafi Nour Party and a threat it would withdraw support of the military-backed transition quickly led to a backtracking.

Talks over the prime minister’s post continued, said Ahmed El-Meslemani, an aide to Mansour, according to the state-run Middle East News Agency.

“There are several options,” he said. “We have to take into consideration the objections on the name of the prime minister.’

The Nour Party said appointing ElBaradei as prime minister would deepen divisions among Egyptians, given his opposition to Islamist groups.

‘‘Whoever made this decision didn’t take into consideration the difficult situation Egypt is going through,” Bassam Al Zarqa, a deputy leader of the party, told privately owned Al Hayat television. A “non-biased economic figure should have been selected instead.”

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