Egyptian Nobelist Is Said to Be Chosen as Prime Minister

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CAIRO -- Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat, was named on Saturday as Egypt's interim prime minister, state media reported, giving the generals who ousted the country's elected Islamic president, Mohamed Morsi, a recognizable face likely to appeal to secularists and to the West.

Rania Azab, an aide to Mr. ElBaradei, 71, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work with International Atomic Energy Agency, said he had accepted the job from the interim president, Adli Mansour, and would be sworn in soon.

Mr. ElBaradei's elevation is a drastic shift for a man who was an internationally known advocate for the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 but does not enjoy wide popularity in the Egyptian street. Many assumed that he decided to drop out of the presidential race, disappointing his liberal supporters, because he was unlikely to win. Mr. Morsi, who became Egypt's first democratically elected president, was ousted on Wednesday by the military after a year in office.

Mr. ElBaradei said in an interview last week that he had worked hard to convince Western powers of what he called the necessity of ousting Mr. Morsi, contending that the president had bungled the country's transition to an inclusive democracy.

In the interview, Mr. ElBaradei also defended the widening arrests of Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood allies and the shutdown of Islamist television networks that followed the removal of Mr. Morsi, who has been held incommunicado since his ouster.

Since Egypt's revolution, Mr. ElBaradei has remained more of a spokesman for the liberal opposition to Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood than an effective participant in the political process.

His appointment is bound to add to Islamist complaints that the country's new rulers are swiftly undoing the Islamists' wins in all postrevolutionary elections by appointing figures whose true popularity among Egyptians has never been put to the test.

Mr. ElBaradei's appointment was criticized on Saturday at an Islamist sit-in in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City, where supporters of Mr. Morsi have vowed to remain until he is reinstated as president.

Ashraf Abu al-Ela, an English teacher, called the nomination "a direct insult to us." He said Mr. ElBaradei had never contributed to Egypt and accused him of being anti-Islam. "He has failed in reading even one verse of the Koran," he said.

Polls taken before the 2012 presidential election showed that many Egyptians harbored doubts about Mr. ElBaradei. The years he spent in Western capitals as an international diplomat raised questions about his authenticity as an Egyptian, and he continued to travel extensively even after his return to Egypt in the early days of the 2011 revolution.

Earlier Saturday, Egyptians buried their dead and treated their wounded while struggling to come to terms with widespread street violence that left more than 30 people dead and 1,400 injured the previous day.

Rubble, shattered glass and spent shotgun shells littered intersections and bridges in Cairo, where battles between Islamist supporters of Mr. Morsi and those celebrating his removal raged into the early morning.

The Health Ministry said the death toll since the violence began on Friday had risen to 36, with about 1,400 wounded nationwide.

Many were shocked by the level of violence and by the abundance of guns in the hands of the combatants, whose stark disagreement over who should be ruling the country followed them into hospital wards. A Coptic priest was shot dead in the northern Sinai Peninsula, and a video circulated showing what appeared to be Islamists pushing two youths from a concrete tower atop a building.

The violence was the most widespread since the revolution that toppled Mr. Mubarak, and many feared that it would make it harder for the country's deeply divided populace to again accept the authority of a single leader.

"We have no idea what's going on," said Muhammad Ahmed 27, standing near the bed of a friend, Muhammad Ali, in Qasr al-Aini Hospital in Cairo. Mr. Ali had been shot in the abdomen and sprayed with birdshot in his back during a clash near Cairo University with pro-Morsi marchers.

"It's a nightmare," Mr. Ahmed said. "I don't understand anything."

The director of the hospital's emergency unit, Hisham Abu Aisha, said Saturday that the hospital had admitted 83 injured people from the previous night's clashes in various Cairo neighborhoods. Most had been shot with birdshot, while others had been stabbed, beaten or hit with rocks.

Four bodies had been taken to the hospital, and another person had died in the emergency room.

Most disconcerting, Dr. Abu Aisha said, were the 15 people who had arrived with gunshot wounds, indicating a presence of guns among protesters that many in Cairo would have once found unthinkable.

Dr. Abu Aisha said the hardest part was the continuation of street fights in the sprawling hospital's wards.

"There were dead and wounded from both sides, and they wanted to finish each other off, so they beat each other inside the hospital," he said. "There is no agreement and everyone is sticking to their views and we can't come up with a plan to move the country forward."

In the surgery ward, Muhammad Ibrahim, 20, recalled seeing someone shot dead next to him and then watching his twin brother, Ahmed, collapse after being shot twice in the abdomen in a clash with pro-Morsi marchers.

"We want there to be stability -- not people getting shot every day," Mr. Ibrahim said. "We'll let anyone rule as long as there is stability."

He said both he and his brother had voted for Mr. Morsi, hoping that he would use Islam to improve life for Egyptians, but they had given up on him when life got worse for the general population. He reserved judgment on Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, leader of the armed forces, who described the military's intervention into politics as a step toward healing the country.

"We'll see if he does anything good or if he'll say he's with the people and do nothing, like the others who came before," Mr. Ibrahim said.

Also Saturday, security officials said Khairat el-Shater, the powerful financier and strategist of Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, had been arrested. About 200 Brotherhood members were put on arrest lists after Mr. Morsi's ouster. Some prominent members have been released, while others remain detained.

Adli Mansour, the interim president appointed by the military, met with General Sisi, who is also the defense minister, and with the interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, at the presidential palace more than one that had been occupied by Mr. Morsi just last week.

Mr. Mansour, a former chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, has spoken publicly only once since his swearing-in, and it remains unclear when he will select a cabinet and how much power it will have. Islamist supporters who consider Mr. Morsi's removal a military coup continued their sit-in in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City and in front of the officers' club of the Republican Guard, where some believe Mr. Morsi is being held. The authorities have given no information on Mr. Morsi's location since his ouster.

"Why are we here today?" a bearded cleric in a white robe asked the crowd over a loudspeaker.

"Allah!" the crowd yelled.

"What do we demand in this place?" he asked.

"Morsi!" they screamed.

A moment later, he waved a cloth red with what he said was the blood of one of the four "martyrs" who had been fatally shot by security forces there the day before.

"We will never surrender," the cleric vowed. "They will try to wage a psychological war on us, they'll try to trick us."

In the crowd, Ahmed Samir, a mosque preacher from the northern city of Beni Suef, held a poster of Mr. Morsi above his head and wore a sign on his chest reading, "Keep your place, legitimacy and the people are with you."

"We'll stay here until Mr. Morsi is back in the presidential palace," Mr. Samir said. "We need freedom in this country, and for everyone to get what they deserve."

In Washington on Friday, the State Department condemned the violence and called for restraint.

"We call on all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and to prevent further violence among their supporters," said Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman. "As President Obama said, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptians are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, and we call on all who are protesting to do so peacefully."

Kareem Fahim contributed reporting from Cairo, and Peter Baker from Washington.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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