Egyptian prime minister deadlock drags on as Cairo death toll rises
Liberal politician ElBaradei, who was nominated for key position over the weekend, condemned all violence, says Egypt in 'dire need’ of reconciliation.
Deadlock over Egypt's interim prime minister entered a third day on Monday after the Islamist Nour Party rejected candidates for interim prime minister, prolonging the impasse amid huge protests that turned violent.
Egypt's military, which overthrew elected leader President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday, can ill afford a lengthy political vacuum at a time of violent upheaval and economic stagnation in the Arab world's largest nation of 84 million people.
Scenes of running street battles between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo, Alexandria and cities across the country have alarmed Egypt's allies, including key aid donors the United States and Europe, and Israel, with which Egypt has had a U.S.-backed peace treaty since 1979.
The death toll in violence on Monday at the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guard rose to 42, Egyptian state television said, after the Muslim Brotherhood accused the security forces of attacking protesters there.
The military says the Islamists attacked the building, where deposed President Morsi was being held. The army said "a terrorist group" had tried to storm the building. One army officer was killed and 40 wounded, it added.
State television reported that an additional 322 people had been wounded in what it described as an attempt to storm the Republican Guard's headquarters.
The transitional administration, installed by the army to steer Egypt to fresh elections, put forward two possible liberal-minded choices for the key position of interim prime minister over the weekend.
On both occasions the Nour Party said no.
Egyptian liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the choices for prime minister which were vetoed by Nour, said the country was in "dire need" of reconciliation and condemned all violence.
"Violence is not the approach no matter what its source, and it must be strongly condemned. I call for an immediate independent and transparent investigation. Egypt is in dire need of reconciliation," he wrote on Twitter on Monday.
Nour had signed up to the army's roadmap for the political transition, giving Islamist legitimacy to an audacious overthrow rejected by Islamic parties aligned to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
That has given it leverage over the choice of the next prime minister. But already accused by other Islamists of betraying their cause, Nour must tread carefully to avoid losing support among its core constituency.
Unlike Nour, its bigger rival the Brotherhood has said it would have no part in the military-backed political process.
Thousands of its supporters were camped out in a suburb of northeastern Cairo. They were refusing to budge until their leader is restored - an unlikely outcome.
Others, like 55-year-old Hanim Ahmad Ali Al-Sawi, were waiting outside the Republican Guard barracks where Morsi was being held.
"We will not leave until Morsi returns. Otherwise we'll die as martyrs," she said, as soldiers and policemen looked on from behind barbed wire. She had been there with her five children for the last three days in spite of the scorching heat.
For many Islamists, the overthrow of Egypt's first freely elected president was a bitter reversal that raised fears of a return to the suppression they endured for decades under autocratic rulers like Mubarak.
On the other side of the political divide, hundreds of thousands of Morsi's opponents poured into Cairo's Tahrir Square, the cradle of the popular uprising to oust him.
On Sunday night, a carnival atmosphere took hold, and a troupe of folk musicians played darabukka drums and mizmar flutes as others danced and let off fireworks.
"I came out to protest today because we reject the terror of the Brotherhood," said Mohamed Manndouh, a 21-year-old business studies student, reflecting the mood among many across Egypt who backed the military intervention.
The army has denied it staged a coup, saying instead it was merely enforcing the will of the people after mass protests on June 30 calling for Morsi's resignation.
People blamed the Brotherhood for economic stagnation and trying to take over every part of the state, an accusation the movement stringently denies.
Washington has not condemned the military takeover or called it a coup, prompting suspicion within the Brotherhood that it tacitly supports the overthrow.
Obama has ordered a review to determine whether annual U.S. assistance of $1.5 billion, most of which goes to the Egyptian military, should be cut off as required by law if a country's military ousts a democratically elected leader.
But U.S. lawmakers said that was unlikely to happen.
"We should continue to support the military, the one stabilizing force in Egypt that I think can temper down the political feuding," U.S. Representative Mike Rogers said on CNN's "State of the Union.”
Egypt cannot afford to lose foreign aid. The country appears headed for a looming funding crunch unless it can quickly access money from overseas. The local currency has lost 11 percent of its value since late last year.
The governor of Egypt's central bank, Hisham Ramez, flew to Abu Dhabi on Sunday, officials at Cairo airport said, following Egyptian media reports Cairo was seeking financial aid from Gulf states after Mursi's removal.
Egypt's foreign reserves fell $1.12 billion in June to $14.92 billion, representing less than three months of imports.
Only about half are in the form of cash or in securities that can easily be spent, and the IMF considers three months to be the minimum safe cushion for reserves.