Africa

Putin: Egypt is moving in same direction as Syria - civil war

Yasmine Saleh, Alexander Dziadosz

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said that Egypt risks slipping into civil war following the military overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi.

'Syria is already in the grips of the civil war ... and Egypt is moving in the same direction,' said Vladimir Putin.

Dozens of people have been killed and more than 1 000 wounded in clashes between Morsi's supporters, opponents and the military since the president's exit.

"Syria is already in the grips of the civil war ... and Egypt is moving in the same direction," Putin told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on Sunday during a visit to Kazakhstan's capital Astana.

Meanwhile, Egypt's transition has stumbled after the choice of Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister was thrown into doubt by Islamist objections.

ElBaradei's nomination had been confirmed by several sources and state media on Saturday, but just before midnight a presidential spokesperson told reporters that the prime minister had not in fact been chosen.

The abrupt U-turn came amid opposition to the appointment by the Nour Party, Egypt's second Islamist force after Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, highlighting the challenge the military faces in finding consensus among liberals and conservatives on who should run the country.

Clashes between tens of thousands of pro- and anti-Morsi protesters swept the Arab world's most populous nation on Friday and at least 35 people were killed and more than 1 000 wounded.

Swift political solution
The violence, which saw rival factions fighting street battles in central Cairo and many others cities and towns, underlined the pressing need for a swift political solution seen as inclusive to all.

"We extend our hand to everyone, everyone is a part of this nation," the spokesperson told reporters. "The Muslim Brotherhood has plenty of opportunities to run for all elections including the coming presidential elections or the ones to follow."

Minutes after he spoke, state media reported that the public prosecutor ordered that four top Brotherhood leaders held this week be detained for a further 15 days on accusations that they incited violence against protesters.

The four included Saad el-Katatni, head of the group's political wing, and Khairat El-Shater, its political strategist.

The Brotherhood has said it wants nothing to do with the military's plans for a new interim government. It believes Morsi should be reinstated, and has pledged to keep protesting until he is.

The Nour Party, however, had agreed to the army-backed transition plan leading to new elections. Its withdrawal from the process would strip that plan of vital Islamist support.

And following the Nour rejection, the interim administration headed by Adli Mansour delayed naming the new prime minister.

Brotherhood call for another day of protest
On Sunday, people were still reeling from one of the bloodiest days in over two years of tumultuous upheaval since autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for 30 years, was toppled in a popular uprising that was part of the 2011 "Arab Spring".

The Brotherhood called for another day of protest on Sunday.

Huge protests were staged on June 30 to pressure Morsi into resigning amid growing anger at economic stagnation and the perception among many that the Brotherhood was seeking to take control of every part of the state – a charge it fiercely denies.

Millions took to the streets to cheer his ouster on Wednesday, but for many Islamists it was a bitter reversal that raised fears of a return to the suppression they endured for decades under autocratic rulers.

The military said it had not carried out a coup, but merely enforced the will of the people. – Reuters

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