Egypt’s Brotherhood rejects cabinet offer

Movement’s rejection comes as interim PM says he plans to start forming new government after meeting liberal leaders.

Egypt''s interim President Adli Mansour meets with Egypt''s former Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi in Cairo
Beblawi, left, an ex-finance minister, was named the new PM by interim leader Mansour, right [Reuters]

The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected an offer to join Egypt’s transitional cabinet, as new interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi announced he would start work on forming an interim government once he meets liberal leaders.

Beblawi told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday that he accepted that it would be difficult to win the unanimous support of Egyptians for his new government.

“Of course we respect the public opinion and we try to comply with the expectation of the people, but there is always a time of choice, there is more than one alternative, you cannot satisfy all of the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s main liberal coalition, the National Salvation Front, withdrew its earlier statement rejecting the transition plan for interim rule and issued a statement containing milder criticism, Reuters said.

Beblawi, a liberal economist and a former finance minister, was named the new prime minister on Tuesday.

Liberal opposition chief and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was also named vice president and head of foreign relations.

The appointments were followed by an announcement that ministerial posts in the new government would be offered to members of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, and to the Al-Nour Party.

Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said that some of the opposition groups like Tamarrod said that they were not consulted, and that the plans for the interim government was a rushed political process done secretly.

Political ‘manoeuvring’

The administration decisions come almost a week after the military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi and chose chief justice Adly Mansour to head the Arab world’s most populous country.

ElBaradei was initially tipped to lead the cabinet but his nomination was rejected by the Nour party. The head of the party added that it was still studying ElBaradei’s appointment as vice president.

Beblawi now faces the daunting task of trying to reunite a deeply divided country and rescue its battered economy.

Shortly after the Islamist parties made their statements, Egypt’s army chief went on state media to say that the military will not accept political “manoeuvring”.

Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said that “the future of the nation is too important and sacred for maneuvers or hindrance, whatever the justifications”.

The blueprint unveiled by Mansour is intended to replace the controversial Islamist-drafted constitution which he suspended following last week’s coup.

A committee will be set up to make final improvements to the draft before it is put to a referendum.

Parliamentary elections will then follow within three months and Mansour will announce a date for a presidential election once the new parliament has convened.

Beblawi and ElBaradei

Both Beblawi and ElBaradei are well-known on Egypt’s political scene.

Beblawi, 76, studied in Cairo and Paris, where he obtained a doctorate in economics.

Egypt in turmoil as rivals reject interim leader’s plan.

During his long career, he worked in public and private institutions, both at home and abroad, including as head of Egypt’s Export Development Bank between 1983 and 1995.

He has also taught at several universities around the world and has written numerous books and articles on finance in Arabic, French and English.

Beblawi was appointed as deputy prime minister and finance minister in the “Revolution Cabinet” after a popular uprising saw the ousting of long-time President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt’s military council rejected Beblawi’s resignation in October of 2011, when he quit in protest over deadly clashes that left at least 26 people dead.

ElBaradei, who has the backing of the June 30 Front – an amalgam of several groups opposing Morsi – is widely respected in Egypt and has received the country’s highest honour, the Nile Shas, in 2006.

The former director of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, 71, has had a long career on the international scene.

ElBaradei served as an Egyptian diplomat to the UN and later as an aide to Egypt’s foreign minister.

He was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency for nearly 12 years. He and the IAEA shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

ElBaradei was tipped to be the new deputy prime minister last week, but Egyptian media later negated the reports.