Egypt's president backs away from new prime minister announcement

Published July 06, 2013

| FoxNews.com

Egypt's new president has backed away from an announcement that pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei would be the interim prime minister.

A spokesman for interim President Adly Mansour, Ahmed el-Musilamani, told reporters on Saturday that consultations were continuing, denying that the appointment of the Nobel Peace laureate was ever certain.

However, reporters gathered at the presidential palace were ushered in to a room where they were told by official to wait for the president who would arrive shortly to announce ElBaradei's appointment.

A senior opposition official, Munir Fakhry Abdelnur, tells The Associated Press that the reversal was because the ultraconservative Salafi el-Nour party objected to ElBardei's appointment and mediation was underway.

Earlier Mansour held crisis talks with security officials on efforts to reclaim control of the streets. 

After a night of clashes that claimed at least 36 lives and injured more than 200, both sides appeared to be preparing for the possibility of more violence as Egypt's political unraveling increasingly left little room for middle ground or dialogue. Only a fraction of Cairo's normally heavy traffic was on the streets amid worries that violence could flare up again. 

Security forces stepped up their presence near the largest concentration of Morsi supporters on the streets: A sit-in outside a mosque in Cairo's eastern Nasr City district, a traditionally Muslim Brotherhood stronghold. 

In Nasr City lines of fighters brandished homemade weapons and body armor at road blocks affixed with Morsi's picture.

Next door in the relatively upscale Heliopolis district, people chanted against Morsi and honked car horns in appreciation of roadblocks manned by Egypt's military -- whose snub of Morsi's authority earlier this week tipped the scales against Egypt's first elected leader.

In a further sign of the concern the unrest could spin out of control, Mansour, held talks with the army chief and Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as well as Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim.

It was the first time Mansour has worked out of the president's main offices since he was sworn-in Thursday as the country's interim leader.

Mansour also met with leaders of Tamrod, or Rebel, the youth movement that organized the mass anti-Morsi demonstrations, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Gunmen shot dead a Christian priest Saturday while he shopped for food in an outdoor market in the northern Sinai Peninsula Saturday.

It was not immediately clear if the shooting was linked to the political crisis, but there has been a backlash against Christians since just before and after Morsi's ouster. Attacks have occurred on members of the minority by Islamists in at least three provinces south of Egypt. Morsi's Brotherhood and hard-line allies claim the Christians played a big part in inciting against the ousted leader.

Officials have briefly detained top figures from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and have kept him from the public eye, under detention in an undisclosed location.

Morsi's supporters have vowed to take to the streets until he is reinstated. His opponents, meanwhile, have called for more mass rallies to defend what they call the "gains of June 30," a reference to the start of massive protests to call for the ouster of the president.

There were no reports of major clashes after dawn Saturday, following a night of street battles that added to an overall death toll of at least 75 in the past week.

The Interior Ministry reported that at least eight policemen have been killed since June 30.

The Health Ministry official’s deputy, Khairat el-Shater, considered the most powerful figure in the organization, was arrested in a Cairo apartment along with his brother on allegations of inciting violence, Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif told The Associated Press.

Egyptian troops reportedly opened fire on Morsi supporters Friday outside Republican Guard headquarters near Cairo, where Morsi was believed held. There were initially conflicting reports on casualties, but an army spokesman denied troops shot at Morsi supporters, saying only blanks and teargas were used.

Crowds of Islamists gathered to cross a bridge over the Nile River after nightfall and clashed with Morsi opponents near Tahrir Square and outside the state TV building. TV images showed groups of youths running and fireworks going off near the bridge. One witness reported stone throwing and gunfire.

In a dramatic appearance -- his first since Morsi's ouster -- the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood defiantly vowed the president would return. "God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace," Mohammed Badie proclaimed from a stage before a crowd of cheering supporters at a Cairo mosque. "We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives."

Badie, who was taken into custody shortly after Morsi was ousted, addressed the military, saying it was a matter of honor for it to abide by its pledge of loyalty to the president, in what appeared to be an attempt to pull it away from its leadership that removed Morsi. "Your leader is Morsi ... Return to the people of Egypt," he said. "Your bullets are not to be fired on your sons and your own people."

State prosecutors said that Morsi would face an investigation next week into claims that he "insulted the presidency."

Morsi was ousted in what was described by the presidential palace as a "complete military coup." The White House has not labeled Morsi ouster a coup. Doing so would have U.S. aid implications.

Morsi said on his presidential Facebook page that the military's action "presents a military coup and it is unacceptable."

The U.S. State Department condemned the violence and called on all Egyptian leaders to denounce the use of force and prevent further bloodshed among their supporters.

Click for more from the BBC.

Fox News' Greg Palkot, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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