CAIRO — Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, on Tuesday swore in a new 34-member cabinet dominated by liberals and technocrats.
Some of the new faces had served in previous cabinets, including under ousted president Mohamed Morsi. But the body was devoid of any members of the powerful Islamist parties that held the majority in Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament, as well as the presidency, until a popular coup deposed Morsi’ s government on July 3.
Heading the new government is Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, an economist. Army chief Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who announced Morsi’s ouster on national television and had earlier promised that the military would stay out of politics, kept his job as Egypt’s defense minister and assumed the additional role of deputy prime minister.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, whose ministry had refused to protect the offices of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in the weeks leading up to the coup, also retained his post.
Ahmed Galal, a U.S.-trained economist, is Egypt’s new finance minister. Nabil Fahmy, a former ambassador to the United States, will serve as foreign minister.
The cabinet also includes three women.
A spokesman for Mansour said earlier Tuesday that Egypt’s interim leaders had offered cabinet posts to members of the Muslim Brotherhood and that the Islamists would participate in the new government. Brotherhood leaders, however, dismissed that claim as a lie.
The ultra-Islamist Nour party, which backed the coup that ousted Morsi, also declined to participate in the new cabinet. The party pulled its support from the new government after Egyptian security forces killed more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters at a pre-dawn sit-in last week.
Rights lawyers say Egyptian authorities have arrested hundreds of people in the wake of last week’s violence. Authorities arrested more than 400 more people Tuesday in connection with clashes that raged between Morsi supporters and the police overnight on Monday.
The deadly clashes erupted on Cairo’s streets not long after a visiting U.S. diplomat hailed what he called a “second chance” for Egyptian democracy after Morsi’s ouster.
Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, the highest-level U.S. official to visit Cairo since the coup, signaled Washington’s readiness to stand with Egypt’s new leaders. Hours later, hundreds of thousands of Morsi supporters shut down major roads and highways in central Cairo and the coastal city of Alexandria, and police launched barrages of tear gas to clear them.
By Tuesday morning, at least seven people were dead and more than 260 injured, according to the state-run Middle East News Agency.
Ramses Square in the center of Egypt’s capital quickly turned into a battle zone early Tuesday, as clashes broke out between Morsi supporters and police who were joined by plainclothes men hurling stones at the protesters from an overpass.
About 300 Morsi supporters took shelter inside the al-Fateh Mosque as clashes flared in Ramses Square early Tuesday. The protesters remained inside the mosque Tuesday afternoon, but they said they planned to leave soon. No police or security forces remained in the vicinity.
Millions of Egyptians took to the streets at the beginning of this month to call for Morsi’s ouster, prompting the July 3 coup that ended the one-year tenure of the nation’s first democratically elected president. Since then, thousands of men, women and families, many of them from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, have held a sit-in outside a mosque in eastern Cairo. The protesters have vowed to stay until Morsi is reinstated, and Brotherhood leaders have called for expanding a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience.
On Monday, Burns appeared to underline a shift by the Obama administration in the past two weeks, from warning against unseating a democratically elected president to throwing Washington’s weight behind the backers of the coup.
“The United States is firmly committed to helping Egypt succeed in this second chance to realize the promise of the revolution,” Burns told a small group of reporters after a day spent meeting with members of the new interim government, including Sissi, the army chief and defense minister.
“I am not naive. I know that many Egyptians have doubts about the United States, and I know that there will be nothing neat or easy about the road ahead,” he added.
Underscoring the challenge facing the United States, Burns was rebuffed by representatives of both the group that led the popular uprising against Morsi and the ultraconservative Islamist party that could benefit from the ouster.
Sharaf al-Hourani and Amer Shakhatreh in Cairo contributed to this report.