10 Jul 2013

Egyptian government orders Brotherhood leader Badie’s arrest

Egypt’s government orders the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohammed Badie and nine others for allegedly instigating violence leading to 55 Islamist protesters being shot by the army.

Egypt's government order the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie (pictures: Reuters)

The general prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that it had issued arrest warrants for Mohammed Badie (pictured above, right), his deputy and strongman, Mahmoud Ezzat and eight other leading Islamists.

The statement said Islamist leaders are suspected of inciting the violence outside the Republican Guard building in Cairo on Monday. Mr Badie is a revered figure among the Brotherhood’s followers, who swear an oath of absolute obedience to him.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said the announcement of charges against Brotherhood leaders was an attempt by the authorities to break up a vigil by thousands of Brotherhood supporters, who have been calling for the reinstatement of Mohamed Mursi, who was ousted as president by the army last week.

The charges were “nothing more than an attempt by the police state to dismantle the Rabaa protest”, he said by telephone from the vigil at Rabaa Adaweya mosque in northeast Cairo (pictured, top).

He said some of the leaders whose arrest was being sought were now at the site of the protest.

Cabinet forms

At the same time, Egypt’s interim government, bolstered by pledges of Gulf funds and quieter streets as Ramadan begins, has started forming a cabinet.

New prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi, a former finance minister, is set to offer positions in the cabinet to Islamists including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Nour Party – but the Muslim Brotherhood is maintaining its position of refusing dialogue with the new regime and encouraging its supporters to take to the streets.

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The Muslim Brotherhood has called the interim government “usurpers”, and is calling for Mohamed Morsi, the president ousted last week, to be returned to power.

A spokesman for the Brotherhood said the group will reject any offer to join an interim government to replace the administration, and said talk of national reconciliation is “irrelevant.”

Mr el-Beblawi faces a difficult tass in symbolically unifying the country through the new cabinet. The presence of Islamists alongside more liberal figures will boost chances of progressing the interim government’s transition plan.

I am sure that the advent of Ramadan will bring joy to the Egyptian people and Mohamed Mursi will be amongst us once again, praying with us, and God willing we will celebrate Eid together. Esraa Mohamed, protester

The plan, set out on Tuesday by interim president Andy Mansour, involves amending Egypt’s now suspended constitution, a new version of which will be voted on in four months time, followed by parliamentary elections, and then presidential elections.

Mr Mansour also set out a truncated, temporary constitution laying out the division of powers in the meantime.

Transition reaction

On Tuesday the top liberal political grouping, the National Salvation Front, rejected the plan, saying it was not consulted “in violation of previous promises” and that the declaration “lacks significant clauses while others need change or removal.”

It later withdrew the statement, but maintained it had concerns and said it would communicate these to Mr Mansour.

The secular youth movement Tamarod, which the protests against Morsi, also criticised the plan. One reason was that it gave too much power to Mansour, including the power to issue laws.

Ramadan effect?

As Ramadan fasting begins, it was thought that Islamist protests against the coup may cool. However, it was not clear to what extent – as most protests have been taking place in the evening.

Mr Mansour has called for a reconciliation process called “One People” to begin in Ramadan, traditionally a period for Muslims to promote unity.

Pro-Morsi supporters (see video, above) said they hoped Ramadan would bring “goodness and loyalty”.

Ramadan Elsherif said: “I pray to God that this month will bring about goodness and loyalty between all factions of the Egyptian people.

“I also wish that those who made mistakes, retract and correct them; and those who do not wish to see this country move onward, think again before taking actions.”

Another pro-Morsi supporter, Esraa Mohamed, said: “I am sure that the advent of Ramadan will bring joy to the Egyptian people and Mohamed Mursi will be amongst us once again, praying with us, and God willing we will celebrate Eid together. This month’s arrival will see an improvement in the wellbeing of all Arab nations.”

However, the interim government was also boosted on Tuesday when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged to give Egypt $8bn in grants, loans and badly needed oil and gas.

The move effectively meant the Gulf countries had stepped in to fill a hole left by Qatar, close ally of the Muslim Brotherhood.