Egypt denies choosing ElBaradei as new prime minister
CAIRO — A day of continued violence over the ouster of Mohamed Morsy as president ended with confusion over a new prime minister for Egypt.
Reports of Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei's being named to the post were quickly denied by a spokesman for Adly Mansour, himself named interim president by the military after it sacked Morsy on Wednesday.
Tamarod, or Rebellion — the political coalition behind last week's enormous anti-Morsy demonstrations — announced the appointment of ElBaradei, former chief of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, on Saturday.
Hours later, Egyptian officials said no appointment had been made and that several names are being considered. They said ElBaradei faces opposition from various political quarters.
ElBaradei is a longtime opposition figure — first to dictator Hosni Mubarak, ousted in a 2011 revolution, and then to Morsy and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood. Although well-known in the West for his U.N. work and opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, he is less known to average Egyptians; some opposition leaders dismiss him as a political opportunist who spent most of his career abroad with the U.N.
Earlier in the day, Islamist supporters of Morsy maintained two sit-ins in the capital. The Brotherhood called for pro-Morsy marches and warned of more bloodshed.
More than 30 people reportedly died in the latest clashes, including a Coptic Christian priest shot by Islamists in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
In a poor section of Cairo, angry residents buried victims of what they described as an attack by Islamist gunmen. Some mourners physically lashed out at a foreign reporter, blaming the United States for Egypt's turmoil.
Growing numbers of Egyptians accuse Washington of backing Morsy and the Brotherhood. Adding to their outrage, some U.S. officials have called for a review of American aid to Egypt because of the military's coup.
The U.S. Embassy, closed for the past week, has evacuated much of its staff and urged all Americans to leave.
Anti-Morsy forces — who brought 17 million or more demonstrators to the streets last week, ultimately forcing the military to act — said they plan more rallies on Sunday.
The mounting violence and political chaos has many Egyptians, and some analysts, fearing a repeat of Algeria in the 1990s. That country exploded in violence and terrorism when the ruling party and the military canceled 1991 elections won by Islamists; more than 100,000 people died over the next decade.
Dalia Ziada, director of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development and a leading women's rights activist here, said the Brotherhood “will not give up easily” after winning control of parliament and the presidency.
“Last year during the presidential elections, the Muslim Brotherhood said very clearly that if (Morsy) did not win and become the president, they would burn Egypt,” said Ziada, 30.
She predicts that “they will keep on attacking the people and killing civilians” but added: “I don't think it will take more than a day or two before it is all over.”
Others believe the Brotherhood can mount huge demonstrations despite some of its key leaders being arrested and sent to the same prison that holds Mubarak, whose 2011 ouster eventually put them in power.
Still, Ziada believes Egypt is “back on the right track” after the Brotherhood's “stealing our revolution.”
“For the first time, Egyptians know what we want. After the 2011 revolution, we only knew what we didn't want,” she said. “We want democracy, with equal rights and opportunities. We want to see great development in this country.
“Please tell the world this is not a coup,” she said. “It is a popular uprising, supported not just by the army but by Al Azhar” — Egypt's main Islamic university — “and the (Christian) church, the police and all the state institutions. … We were going to die, but we were saved.”
Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. Email her at email@example.com.