Middle East

Egypt orders Brotherhood chief held, Mursi in 'safe place'

A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi holds a picture of Mursi during a protest in Cairo July 9, 2013. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

CAIRO: Egypt on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohammed Badie over violence in Cairo that left dozens dead while charging another 200 people over the bloodshed, judicial sources said.

Badie and other senior Brotherhood leaders are wanted for allegedly inciting the clashes outside the Republican Guard headquarters at dawn on Monday where supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi were calling for him to be reinstated.

Mursi is currently being held in a "safe place, for his safety," foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "He is not charged with anything up till now," he said.

His overthrow by the military a week ago, after massive protests calling for his resignation, has pushed Egypt into a vortex of violence that has claimed at least 88 lives, according to Amnesty International.

On Monday, in the worst incident, the Brotherhood claims police and troops "massacred" 42 of their supporters as they performed dawn prayers, with women and children among the dead.

The army said it came under attack by "terrorists".

The public prosecutor on Wednesday charged 200 people held over the bloodshed outside the military barracks, the judicial sources said.

The charges and arrest orders came as interim authorities were to start talks on forming a caretaker cabinet headed by new prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi.

However they face tough hurdles as opponents and supporters of Mursi alike have slammed a temporary charter aimed at steering the divided nation through a difficult transition.

Interim president Adly Mansour has set a timetable for elections by early next year, while appointing Beblawi as premier and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei as vice president responsible for foreign affairs.

But cracks have emerged in the loose coalition that backed Mursi's overthrow.

The National Salvation Front (NSF), the main coalition formerly led by ElBaradei, denounced Mansour's decree and demanded amendments, while Tamarod, the movement that spearheaded the grassroots campaign against Mursi, complained about not being consulted.

After initially announcing its "rejection" of the decree, the NSF on Wednesday toned down its reaction, saying instead it "disagreed" with some of its provisions.

The Muslim Brotherhood had already rejected Mansour's temporary charter as a decree enforced by "putschists".

Beblawi, a former finance minister and economist, was on Wednesday to begin talks on forming his cabinet, the official MENA news agency said.

He would offer the Muslim Brotherhood posts in the new government, the agency quoted a presidential aide as saying.

But the Muslim Brotherhood spurned the overture. "We do not deal with putschists. We reject all that comes from this coup," spokesman Tareq al-Mursi told AFP.

Amnesty International called for an "independent and impartial" investigation into the deadly unrest, after its findings suggested "the use of disproportionate force by the security forces".

The latest violence in Egypt took place overnight in Sinai, where militants struck a police garrison with mortar rounds and heavy machine guns, security officials said, while two people were killed in a rocket propelled grenade attack on an army checkpoint according to medics.

In addition to the security challenges, Mansour must also deal with the frayed coalition that helped topple Mursi.

An official with one of the parties in the NSF told AFP that Mansour's 33-article declaration foresees new "legislative, executive and judicial powers" for the interim president.

"You would look like a hypocrite now. It makes it look as if you are not against dictatorship, just against a dictatorship that is not from your group," he said.

Many within the coalition are wary of repeating the mistakes of the last military led transition, between Hosni Mubarak's ouster in 2011 and Mursi's election in June 2012.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for an "uprising" to restore Mursi.

But the army warned it would brook no disruption to what it acknowledged would be a "difficult" transition.

The United States, which provides $1.5 billion in mainly military aid to Egypt, said it was "cautiously encouraged" by the timetable proposed for a new presidential election.

In a boost for the economy, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait between them have announced that they would give Egypt a combined total of $12 billion in assistance.





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