Egyptian soldiers guard the gates of the Republican Guard’s building during a protest of supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Egypt’s new leadership wrangled over the naming of a prime minister

Egyptian soldiers guard the gates of the Republican Guard’s building during a protest of supporters of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi. Egypt’s new leadership wrangled over the naming of a prime minister

Factions fight over control of Egypt’s PM post

Secular and liberal factions trying to install one of their own as Egypt’s new prime minister collided into strong resistance Sunday from the sole Islamist faction that backed the military’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, reflecting the difficulties in building a broad coalition behind a new leadership.

CAIRO, Egypt — Secular and liberal factions trying to install one of their own as Egypt’s new prime minister collided into strong resistance Sunday from the sole Islamist faction that backed the military’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, reflecting the difficulties in building a broad coalition behind a new leadership.

As wrangling continued over the prime minister spot, giant rallies by the movements that pushed out Morsi took on a sharply nationalist tone, pervaded with posters of the military’s chief and denunciations of the United States and President Barack Obama for they see as their backing of the Islamist leader.

The show of strength in the streets was aimed at fending off a determined campaign by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which brought out its own supporters Sunday in large protests.

Warning that the military is turning Egypt into a “totalitarian state,” Brotherhood officials vowed to stay on the streets to reverse what they call a coup against democracy and restore Egypt’s first freely elected president to office.

Military warplanes swooped over the anti-Morsi crowd filling Cairo’s Tahrir Square, drawing a heart shape and an Egyptian flag in the sky with colored smoke. Large banners read “Obama, hands off, a message to the USA. Obama supports the terrorists of 911” with a picture of Obama with an Islamists’ beard.

Throughout Morsi’s year in office, many of his opponents accused the United States of backing his administration. Washington often underlined that it was dealing with Morsi as the country’s elected leader.

Before the wave of anti-Morsi protests began on June 30, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson said in a speech that she was “deeply skeptical” protests would be fruitful. She defended U.S. relations with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as necessary because the group is part of the democratically elected government.

Since Morsi’s removal Wednesday, Washington has tread carefully, expressing concern without outright calling the army’s move a coup or denouncing Morsi’s ouster. On Saturday, the White House said in a statement that it rejects “false claims propagated by some in Egypt that we are working with specific political parties or movements to dictate how Egypt’s transition should proceed,” saying it is committed to Egyptians’ aspirations for democracy. The widespread appearance of anti-American slogans in Tahrir had a double-edged message: painting the Brotherhood as a tool of Washington and pushing back against U.S. concerns over the military’s moves.

Obama “must know that this is a popular revolution,” said Shawki Ibrahim, a 37-year-old in Tahrir with a portrait of army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi dangling from his neck.

“The United States should support the people’s will and not the interest of a person or a group seeking only their own interest,” he said.

The appointment of a prime minister is the key next step in building a post-Morsi leadership. The prime minister is to hold far greater powers in running the country than the interim president — Adly Mansour, a senior judge who was sworn into the post earlier.

The bloc of secular, leftist and liberal factions that led the giant wave of protests against Morsi last week are now the main grouping in a loose collection of movements trying to fill out leadership posts. They are pushing for one of their own as prime minister to have a strong voice in shaping the country. But also among them is a main party of the ultraconservative Islamist movement known as Salafis — al-Nour — which turned against Morsi months ago and backed the military’s ouster of him.

On Saturday, al-Nour blocked the appointment of the most prominent liberal figure, Mohamed ElBaradei, as prime minister, who is deeply distrusted by the Islamist movement as too secular.

On Sunday, the secular-liberal bloc offered a compromise candidate — Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, a prominent financial expert and an ally of ElBaradei. The interim president’s spokesman Ahmed al-Musalamani, told Egypt’s ONTV that Bahaa-Eldin was the leading candidate, with ElBaradei positioned to be named vice-president. But al-Nour again appeared prepared to block it.

“Our position is that the prime minister should not belong to a specific faction … We want a technocrat,” al-Nour Party chief Younes Makhyoun said.

He pointed to Bahaa-Eldin’s membership in the National Salvation Front, the main umbrella group of liberal parties that was Morsi’s main opposition.

Al-Nour faces considerable pressure from its followers not to be seen as backing down to secular movements. Brotherhood officials claim some al-Nour members have already joined its pro-Morsi protests. When al-Nour broke with Morsi months ago, it caused a split among its ranks, with some members forming a new party that remained with the president.

Al-Nour was clearly concerned about appearing to side with the military against fellow Islamists at a time when Morsi and five other prominent Brotherhood figures have been put in detention and Islamist television stations have been put off the air.

Speaking on Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr TV, Makhyoun warned that if the interim president throws out the Islamist-drafted constitution and appoints a panel to write a new one, the party will break with the military-backed “road map” for a transition. So far, the constitution has only been suspended and the talk has been of just amending disputed articles.

On Sunday, the Dawaa Salafia, a body of clerics allied to al-Nour, said the new leadership must be inclusive of Islamists, and it criticized the heavy hand against the Brotherhood.

“No one should rejoice for undermining the freedom of others even if they are political rivals because repression is harmful for all,” it said in a statement on its website.

“The police and the army should not discriminate between citizens based on their political colour. Worse than this is to discriminate against anyone because of their Islamic disposition,” it said.

The liberal and secular factions want to maintain al-Nour support to show they have a powerful Islamist voice on their side. Al-Nour won a quarter of the seats in parliament in 2011-2012 elections.

But they were infuriated by its blocking of ElBaradei, with some insisting it should not have veto power over the post. The youth activist group Tamarod accused al-Nour of “blackmail” and arm-twisting.“

That raises the possibility they could eventually ignore al-Nour’s demands and force through a candidate of their own. That would risk al-Nour breaking away, further solidifying Egypt’s divide into Islamist and non-Islamist camps.

The prime minister will also likely have strong influence on the process of writing a new constitution. That’s a major concern of al-Nour, which pushed hard for the Islamic character of the charter pushed through under Morsi’s administration, which was suspended after his ouster.

Walid el-Masry, of Tamarod, said al-Nour is using the ElBaradei issue to press liberals on the constitution, worried about changes to the Islamist-drafted charter.

“They are afraid about the articles that concern the state’s Islamic identity,” he said, adding that the liberals assured Salafis that they won’t touch these articles.

The Islamists have denounced the removal of Morsi as an army coup against democracy. Their opponents have argued the president had squandered his electoral mandate and that the Brotherhood was putting Egypt on an undemocratic path.

Pro-Morsi rallies turned out in several places around Cairo on Sunday, centred outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque where tens of thousands massed.

The Brotherhood has so far staunchly rejected any co-operation with the emerging military-backed leadership, saying Morsi must return to its posts. But in a statement late Sunday, it hinted at the possibility of listening to other initiatives — as long as they entailed the president’s reinstatement.

“Despite great bitterness, we are ready to accept the initiatives of loyal friends who call for the complete return of legitimacy, including president, constitution and (parliament),” it said.

Senior Brotherhood member Saad Emara said there was no possibility for any negotiations with the new leadership after “all betrayed us,” and following the military’s clampdown on the group.

“We are not regressing to a Mubarak era but to … a totalitarian regime,” he told AP. “Anything other than protest is suicide.”

A Brotherhood spokesman, Gehad el-Haddad, said the military is not giving any positive signals for the group to be willing to talk, pointing to the arrests of the leadership figures and shutdowns of media.

“They are trying to terrorize us,” he said.

Outside Rabaa al-Adawiya, Brotherhood supporters waved flags as young men wearing makeshift helmets jogged in place and did calisthenics, as part of security teams the group says are to defend its rallies from attack.

One man raised a poster in Arabic and English: “Where is my president? Where is Morsi?”

“Do we not deserve democracy, aren’t we worth anything?” said an emotional Alaa el-Saim, a retired army engineer in a broad-brimmed hat to protect from the sun. He pointed to the shooting by troops on Friday of pro-Morsi protesters. “It’s the first time I’ve seen that, the army shoots at us with weapons they bought with the taxes I paid.”

Khaled Galal, a young bearded man in a skull cap, called the army’s actions the “rape of legitimacy.”

“Muslims aren’t allowed democracy, and when we pick up weapons to defend it we get called terrorists,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read