Cracks emerge as Egyptians seek prime minister

Cracks emerge as Egyptians seek prime minister

State media reports ElBaradei as choice, then Islamist party refuses to work with him

Egypt’s new leaders struggled to put together a new government on Saturday,with disagreements over who should be the interim prime minister spilling out into public view and showcasing the divisions among those who had endorsed the overthrow of the country’s first democratically elected president.

State news media initially reported that Mohamed ElBaradei,the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat and a vocal critic of Egypt’s last three leaders,had been chosen as prime minister,a move that would have given the generals who ousted President Mohammed Morsi a head of government likely to appeal to the country’s liberals and the West.

But within hours,the fissures that had vexed Morsi’s rule re-emerged to undo the reported decision. The ultra-conservative party Al Nour,the one Islamic faction that had backed the military takeover,said it would refuse to work with ElBaradei because of his liberal views. Around midnight,after hours of contradictory news coverage,the new interim president then backed away from the earlier reports that ElBaradei had been offered the job.

Morsi was unseated by the country’s generals on Wednesday for failing to bring Egypt’s political factions together,with many saying the Islamists had taken too much power. But with the reports that ElBaradei had been named prime minister on Saturday,the pendulum appeared to have swung the other way.


Signs emerged almost immediately Saturday that the reported appointment was not final,with state TV making only passing references to the news and the website of Egypt’s flagship newspaper,Al Ahram,saying the selection would be announced at a news conference that never materialized.

“This is how it is with a revolution,” said Rania Azab,a news media adviser for ElBaradei,71,who insisted late Saturday that he had been chosen to form an interim cabinet. “You have to bear with us.” She did not respond to telephone calls after it became clear that ElBaradei’s appointment was not final.

In Washington,President Obama met with the National Security Council by conference call and condemned the continuing violence in Egypt,the White House said in a statement.

Al Ahram reported that ElBaradei had been charged with forming a government and that he and his ministers would be sworn in once the full cabinet was formed. State television referred only briefly to ElBaradei’s appointment,showing a video of a news conference he held without broadcasting his remarks.