Egypt's New Government Doesn't Include Muslim Brotherhood

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CAIRO -- Egyptian officials announced a new government on Tuesday that excluded members of the country's influential Islamist parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and appeared to give an expanded role to the country's powerful military chief.

The new cabinet, led by one of Egypt's most prominent economists, replaces the government of President Mohamed Morsi, who was deposed by the military nearly two weeks ago after mass protests against his rule. The formation of the government is part of a military-led transition plan that is supposed to lead to parliamentary elections within six months.

Analysts praised the diversity of the new cabinet, which included three women, and said it was well qualified to tackle Egypt's escalating crises, including an economy in free-fall. At the same, they said, any government that owed its existence to the army, rather than voters, and excluded Islamists, Egypt's most successful electoral force, faced immediate questions about its legitimacy.

A spokesman for Egypt's interim president denied that anyone had been "excluded" and said that positions had been offered to members of the Brotherhood as well as the ultraconservative Nour party.

But Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, which is demanding the reinstatement of Mr. Morsi as president after what it said was a military coup, said the party was never offered any posts.

"The whole thing is illegitimate," he said.

The army chief, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, who already serves as defense minister, added the title of first deputy to the interim prime minister, although his specific powers remained vague. General Sisi has appeared to serve as the de facto head of government since he ousted Mr. Morsi and appointed an interim president, Adli Mansour.

Several of Mr. Morsi's cabinet ministers retained their posts, including the interior minister, who presides over a police force widely criticized for its brutality and lack of reform since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The new government was immediately faced with the tense and sometimes violent standoff between the authorities and Mr. Morsi's supporters, who have been holding sit-ins and demonstrations since the president's ouster. After days without major violence, at least seven people were killed and more than 200 were injured in overnight clashes between Islamists and Egyptian riot police, health officials said Tuesday.

The clashes shrouded well-known Cairo landmarks with tear gas and smoke from burning tires, including the downtown Ramses Railway Station and a square near Cairo University. The battles appeared to signal an escalation by the Islamists, who had largely confined their protest to a central encampment since June 8, when soldiers and police officers opened fire on a pro-Morsi gathering, killing more than 50 people.

On Monday evening, thousands of Islamists left the encampment, blocking a bridge that is a central artery for the city's traffic. They pelted arriving police officers with rocks and the officers, backed by civilians wearing hard hats, responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Clashes were also reported in other cities around the country.

The police arrested more than 400 people in Monday night's violence, state media reported. It was a stark contrast to their failure to arrest almost anyone during dozens of nights of street fighting over the two and a half years since the ouster of Mr. Mubarak, and it underscored the re-engagement of the security forces in a new battle against the Islamists, their old foe.

Mayy El Sheikh contributed reporting.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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