Sunday 26 October 2014

Brotherhood rejects Egypt deal

Published 08/07/2013 | 02:27

Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the gates of the Republican Guard's building during a protest by Morsi supporters (AP)
Egyptian soldiers guard the entrances to Tahrir square in Cairo (AP)
An anit-Morsi protester holds a poster of Lt Gen Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egyptian Army Commander in Chief, during a rally in Tahrir Square (AP)

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has rejected a compromise deal from the interim leadership that sets a fast track for amending the Islamist-drafted constitution and holding new parliamentary and presidential elections by early next year.

The quick issuing of the transition plan showed how Egypt's new leadership is shrugging off Islamists' vows to reverse the military's overthrow of president Mohammed Morsi and wants to quickly entrench a post-Morsi political system.

Egypt's military also aims to show Western nations that the country is moving quickly back to an elected civilian leadership. Washington has expressed concern over the removal of Egypt's first freely elected president, and if the US government decides that the army's move qualifies as a coup it would have to cut off more than a a billion dollars in aid to Egypt, mostly to the military.

Egypt's political divide was further enflamed by one of the worst single incidents of bloodshed in 2 1/2 years of turmoil: Security forces killed more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters in clashes at a sit-in by Islamists. The military accused armed Islamists of sparking the fighting, but Morsi supporters said troop opened fire on them without provocation after dawn prayers.

Since then, the military and allied media have depicted the campaign to restoreMr Morsi as increasingly violent and infused with armed extremists. Islamists, in turn, have talked of the military aiming to crush them after what they say was a coup to wreck democracy.

Essam el-Erian, a senior Brotherhood figure and deputy head of its Freedom and Justice Party, rejected the transition timetable, saying it takes the country "back to zero."

The constitution passed under Mr Morsi - and suspended since his fall - was written by an assembly created by the first post-Mubarak parliament, elected in 2011-2012. But the panel was deeply controversial.

Reflecting the parliament, the constituent assembly had a strong Islamist majority. Most non-Islamists eventually abandoned the assembly, complaining that the Brotherhood and its allies were imposing their will. Courts were considering whether to dissolve the panel but Mr Morsi unilaterally decreed that they could not while his allies rushed to finalise the draft.

Meanwhile prominent economist, Hazem el-Beblawi, has been named prime minister and pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei vice president. The announcements came after days of political stalemate over the prime minister post. Last week, Mr ElBaradei was on the verge of being named prime minister, but at the last minute an Islamist party involved in the discussions blocked his appointment.

Mr El-Beblawi, who is in his 70s, served as finance minister in one of the first cabinets formed after the 2011 uprising forced Hosni Mubarak from power and the military stepped in to rule. He resigned in protest in October 2011 after 26 protesters, mostly Christians, were killed by troops and security forces in a crackdown on their march.

Press Association

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