London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Opponents and supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi have criticized a new constitutional declaration granting interim president Adly Mansour extensive powers, as newly appointed prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi seeks to form a cabinet on Wednesday.
Beblawi, a senior Egyptian economist whose nomination received the unanimous backing of all parties in the broad coalition that ousted President Mursi, is seeking to form a new government to attempt to bridge the sharp divisions that have emerged on the political scene.
Ahmed El-Musalamani, a spokesman for the interim president, revealed that talks to form a new cabinet will begin on Wednesday, and that transitional prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi will offer posts to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Al-Nour party.
However, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said on Wednesday that it will reject any offer to join the new interim government following what they view as a military coup removing a democratically elected president from power.
“We do not deal with putschists. We reject all that comes from this coup,” said Brotherhood spokesman Tareq Al-Morsi.
Speaking to Reuters, Beblawi acknowledged that it would be difficult to form a cabinet that enjoys universal support: “I don’t believe that anything can have unanimous approval,” he said.
“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 added.
The senior Egyptian economist was appointed by interim president Adly Mansour on Tuesday to head up a transitional government. Beblawi, 76, was a supporter of the January 25 revolution against Mubarak and was subsequently appointed finance minister in the military-backed interim government that preceded Mohamed Mursi’s presidency. National Salvation Front leader Mohamed El-Baradei was on the verge of securing the position of prime minister last week, but withdrew his name at the last minute following strong objections from the Salafist Al-Nour party. The Nour Party accepted the nomination of Beblawi, while secularist Baradei has since been appointed vice president for foreign relations.
The new constitutional declaration, which puts forward the framework for the post-Mursi transition, has drawn fire from all sides. The declaration lays out plans to establish a panel to amend the suspended Islamist-drafted constitution within a period of 15 days. These changes will then be put to a referendum within four months, which would then pave the way for parliamentary elections, possibly in early 2014. After the convening of Egypt’s new parliament, elections would be called to appoint a new president.
Egypt’s main liberal coalition, the National Salvation Front (NSF), rejected interim president Adly Mansour’s constitutional declaration yesterday, stressing that they had not been sufficiently consulted prior to its issuance.
On Tuesday night, the coalition issued a statement declaring: “The NSF announces its rejection of the constitutional decree.”
However, it subsequently attempted to downplay its objections, saying it had not been consulted in the drafting of the charter and therefore there were a number of articles it did not agree with. The NSF added that it would “propose [its] own amendments to the president.”
One NSF official, speaking to AFP on the condition of anonymity, rejected the declaration because it grants new “legislative, executive, and judicial powers” to 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.
Egypt’s Tamarod (Rebellion) movement, which called for the June 30 demonstrations that ultimately ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, also rejected the new Constitutional Declaration, claiming it lays the foundation for a new dictatorship.
Tamarod announced that it will submit a list of amendments to interim president Adly Mansour to better serve the interests of the country. Tamarod stressed that the first article of the declaration, which states that “the principles of Shari’a and its fundamental rules, doctrines, and jurisprudence . . . are the main source of legislation,” was included solely to satisfy the Salafist Nour party. The youth-dominated movement added that articles 23, 24 and 27 of the new Constitutional Declaration lay the foundations for a new dictatorship, granting the president the right to “take all necessary measures and actions to protect the country.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, which has refused to accept the military coup toppling the Mursi government from power, rejected Adly Mansour’s plan outright.
“A constitutional decree by a man appointed by putschists . . . brings the country back to square one,” senior Muslim Brotherhood official Essam El-Erian said in a Facebook post.
In related news, Egypt’s prosecutor’s office recently ordered the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, state media reported on Wednesday.
Badie is accused of inciting the violence in Cairo on Friday, which led to at least 51 people being killed. Initial reports had claimed that Badie had been arrested in Marsah Matrouh, close to the Libyan border, last week, but he later appeared at a Muslim Brotherhood rally in Rabaa Al-Adawiya square, during which he called on Brotherhood supporters to resist the “military coup” against Mohamed Mursi.