Egyptian opposition is split over ElBaradei role as PM
Egypt's new president tried to assert his authority yesterday by naming Mohammed ElBaradei – a chief rival of ousted leader Mohammed Morsi – as interim prime minister and holding crisis talks with security officials on efforts to reclaim control of the streets.
Within minutes of the news that ElBaradei would be named, a senior Brotherhood official said that the Islamist movement would reject him, describing him as "Washington's choice".
The ultraconservative Salafist party el-Nour took their cue – and late last night Egypt's second biggest Islamist group, which had initially backed the army's political roadmap towards to new elections, said that they opposed the nomination of ElBaradei as interim prime minister – and the appointment was put on hold.
The deputy leader of the el-Nour told the state news website Al-Ahram that the party would withdraw from the political transition process if ElBaradei was confirmed in his post.
"The nomination of ElBaradei violates the roadmap that the political and national powers had agreed on with General Fattah al-Sisi," he said.
A spokesman for Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour told reporters on Saturday that consultations were continuing, denying that the appointment of the Nobel Peace laureate was ever certain – a statement which flew in the face of what the fledgling regime had actually said, underlining the tricky balance they must strike to achieve towards some sort of stability.
Losing el-Nour's backing would significantly weaken the position of the military, removing any Islamist support from the transition process.
After a night of clashes that claimed at least 36 lives, both sides appeared to be preparing for more violence as Egypt's political unraveling increasingly left little room for middle ground or dialogue.
In the eastern suburb of Nasr City – near the main rallying point for Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood – fighters brandished homemade weapons at road blocks affixed with Mr Morsi's picture.
Next door, in the relatively upscale Heliopolis district, people chanted against Mr Morsi and honked car horns in appreciation of roadblocks manned by Egypt's military, whose snub of Mr Morsi's authority earlier this week tipped the scales against Egypt's first elected leader.
Mr Mansour's preference for pro-reform leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei as prime minister is also certain to help cement the loyalties of the anti-Morsi forces.
ElBaradei, a former director of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency, led the protests during the Arab Spring uprising that ended Mubarak's rule in February 2011. The revolution also opened the way for the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Last night there were reports that the interim presidency would allow the Muslim Brotherhood to contest any new elections.