U-turn on ElBaradei as Egypt's interim PM deepens crisis
Islamist objections sink military's choice of liberal politician as interim prime minister and deepen crisis of Egypt's political transition
Egypt's political transition after President Mohammed Mursi was ousted by the military stumbled at the first hurdle, after the choice of liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister was thrown into doubt by Islamist objections.
ElBaradei's nomination had been confirmed by several sources and state media on Saturday, but just before midnight a presidential spokesman told reporters that the prime minister had not in fact been chosen.
The U-turn came amid opposition to the appointment by the Nour Party, Egypt's second Islamist force after Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, highlighting the challenge the military faces in finding consensus among liberals and conservatives on who should run the country.
Clashes between tens of thousands of pro- and anti-Mursi protesters swept the Arab world's most populous nation on Friday and at least 36 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded.
The violence, which saw rival factions fighting street battles in central Cairo and many other cities and towns, underlined the pressing need for a swift political solution seen as inclusive to all.
"We extend our hand to everyone; everyone is a part of this nation," the spokesman said. "The Muslim Brotherhood has plenty of opportunities to run for all elections including the coming presidential elections."
Minutes after he spoke, state media reported that the public prosecutor ordered that four top Brotherhood leaders held this week be detained for a further 15 days on accusations that they incited violence against protesters.
The four included Saad el-Katatni, head of the group's political wing, and Khairat El-Shater, its political strategist.
The Brotherhood has said it wants nothing to do with the plans for a new interim government. It believes Mursi should be reinstated and has pledged to keep protesting until he is.
The Nour Party, however, had agreed to the army-backed transition plan leading to new elections. Its withdrawal from the process would strip that plan of vital Islamist support.
Following the Nour rejection, the interim administration headed by Adli Mansour delayed naming the new prime minister.
Yesterday, people were still reeling from one of the bloodiest days in more than two years of tumultuous upheaval since autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for 30 years, was toppled in a popular uprising that was part of the 2011 Arab spring.
Huge protests were staged on June 30 to press Mursi into resigning amid growing anger at economic stagnation and the perception among many that the Brotherhood was seeking to take control of every part of the state - a charge it fiercely denies.
Millions took to the streets to cheer his ousting on Wednesday, but for many Islamists it was a bitter reversal that raised fears of a return to the suppression they endured for decades under autocratic rulers.
The military said it had not carried out a coup, but merely enforced the will of the people.
The events of the past week have raised alarm among Egypt's allies in the West, including main aid donors the United States and the European Union, and in Israel, with which Egypt has had a US-backed peace treaty since 1979.
On Saturday, US President Barack Obama condemned the violence, and said the US was not working with any particular party or group in Egypt. Washington has not condemned the military takeover or called it a coup, prompting suspicion within the Brotherhood that it tacitly supports the overthrow of Mursi.