Middle East

Doubts over ElBaradei's appointment as Egypt PM

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi protest in Cairo 6 July 2013
Supporters of Mr Morsi again took to the streets on Saturday

Egypt's new president says pro-reform leader Mohamed Elbaradei has not yet been appointed as interim prime minister despite earlier reports.

A spokesman for interim President Adly Mansour said consultations were continuing.

Officials had earlier named Mr ElBaradei - a former head of the UN's nuclear watchdog - for the post.

News of his appointment had been criticised by the Salafist Nour Party, which said it would not work with him.

It came three days after the army removed Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi following growing public unrest.

The appointment of Mr ElBaradei caused anger among supporters of Mr Morsi, who want to see him returned to power.

"Interim President Adly Mansour met today with Dr ElBaradei but so far there has been no official appointment," Agence France-Presse news agency quoted presidential advisor Ahmed al-Muslimani as saying.

But he added that Mr ElBaradei was "the logical choice" among a list of names being considered, the news agency said.

Mr ElBaradei and other party leaders attended a meeting called by Mr Mansour on Saturday.

He leads an alliance of liberal and left-wing parties, the National Salvation Front.

In a BBC interview on Thursday, Mr ElBaradei defended the army's intervention, saying: "We were between a rock and a hard place."

"It is a painful measure, nobody wanted that," he said. "But Mr Morsi unfortunately undermined his own legitimacy by declaring himself a few months ago as a pharaoh and then we got into a fist fight, and not a democratic process."

Polarised nation

Earlier, news of Mr ElBaradei's appointment was greeted with cheers in Cairo's Tahrir Square - the main focus of anti-Morsi demonstrations.

People there set off firecrackers, honked car horns and waved flags when they heard the news, AFP news agency reports.

However Egypt's second-biggest Islamist group, the Salafist hard-line Nour party - which had initially backed the army-led "roadmap" to new elections - criticised the nomination.

Nour deputy leader Ahmed Khalil told the state news website Al-Ahram that the appointment "violates the roadmap that the political and national powers had agreed on". He added that the party would withdraw from the transition process if Mr ElBaradei was sworn in.

The move comes a day after more than 30 people died and about 1,000 were wounded in protests staged by Islamist supporters of the deposed president.

The Muslim Brotherhood - to which Mr Morsi belongs - has said its followers would remain on the streets until he is restored to office.

On Saturday funerals were held for those who died. Outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque - where the Islamists have camped for the past 10 days - an imam told mourners to pray for the "martyrs of legitimacy".

The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Cairo says Egypt remains sharply divided between Islamist supporters of Mr Morsi and rival demonstrators who helped force him from office.

The latter have called for demonstrations against the Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday.

Mr Morsi is in detention, along with some senior Brotherhood figures.

He was replaced on Thursday by Mr Mansour - the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court - who promised to hold elections soon but gave no date.

The Tamarod [Rebellion] movement - which organised recent anti-Morsi protests - had accused the ousted president of pursuing an Islamist agenda against the wishes of most Egyptians, and of failing to tackle economic problems.

The US and other Western countries have expressed concern over the Mr Morsi's removal, and have called for reconciliation and speedy elections.

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