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Updated: July 7, 2013 19:09 IST

ElBaradei not named Egypt’s PM, but is logical choice: official

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Former Director General of IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei. File photo
Former Director General of IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei. File photo

In another dramatic twist in the saga of political upheaval in Egypt, the interim President’s office dismissed reports that Mohamed ElBaradei has been named the country’s Prime Minister, but said the leading liberal opposition leader is “the logical choice” for the post.

Mr. ElBaradei met with interim President Adly Mansour for two hours on Saturday afternoon, and “discussions and consultations are ongoing,” Presidential Adviser Ahmed al-Muslimani said on state-run TV.

“Tomorrow we expect to name the Prime Minister and the Ministers.”

He added that Mr. ElBaradei was “the logical choice” among a list of names being considered.

If 71-year-old Mr. ElBaradei is selected, it would signal a secular shift just days after a military coup ousted nation’s first democratically elected and Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The move comes as supporters and opponents of the ousted President planned rival demonstrations on Sunday, with the former demanding Mr. Morsy’s reinstatement and the latter supporting Mr. Morsy’s overthrow.

A coalition supporting 61-year-old Mr. Morsy’s reinstatement called for protests on Sunday to reject Wednesday’s “military coup” by Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Officials had earlier named Mr. ElBaradei, a former head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, for the post of Prime Minister.

News of his appointment had been criticised by the Salafist Nour Party, which said it would not work with him.

The appointment of Mr. ElBaradei caused anger among supporters of Mr. Morsy, who want to see him returned to power.

The initial reports of Mr. ElBaradei’s appointment were greeted with cheers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Ittihadiya presidential palace.

The celebrations came after 24 hours of violence that left 37 people dead and over 1,400 injured.

The possible appointment of Mr. ElBaradei, the defacto head of the opposition movement in the days leading to Wednesday’s ouster of Mr. Morsy, has been discussed as a possibility among supporters in recent days.

Mr. ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, ran in the country’s first election in 2012 but withdrew after criticising the interim government for failing to bring about a “real democratic system.”

How Mr. Morsi’s supporters, who supported the deposed Islamist President’s rule, react to the new government will be key for post-coup Egypt, where the military suspended the country’s constitution and dissolved parliament.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of angry supporters of the ousted President, chanted slogans like “down with military rule”, took to the streets after Friday prayers demanding his reinstatement.

In the capital, the protesters holding images of Mr. Morsi marched towards the Republican Guards Club, where Mr. Morsi is believed to have been put “under guard” since Wednesday night.

Despite warning from soldiers, the crowd tried to storm the Guards headquarters, prompting the soldiers to open fire — first into the air, then at the demonstrators, killing four demonstrators and wounding dozens, local media reported.

In running street battles in Cairo on Saturday, more people died, including two at iconic Tahrir Sqaure, and scores of others injured, reports said.

The worst hit was coastal city of Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt, where street fighting and clashes on Saturday left 12 people dead, mostly from gunshot wounds.

Meanwhile, Brotherhood-led National Alliance in Support of Electoral Legitimacy vowed more protests in support of the deposed President.

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