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Egyptians Protest Amid Prime Minister Dispute

July 07, 2013

by Edward Yeranian

Rival demonstrations are taking place in the Egyptian capital Cairo and elsewhere across the country Sunday, as supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi take to the streets to defend their political positions.

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi continue their sit-in protest in front of Cairo's Rouba Adawiya mosque Sunday, amid calls for further demonstrations across the capital. Opponents of Morsi also plan to hold a rival rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Amid protests and counter-protests, Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour continues to consult rival political leaders about forming a new government. News that opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei had been selected to head that government late Saturday was refuted by presidential spokesman Ahmed al-Muslimany.

He says that consultations have begun, but that the name of a new prime minister has not yet been agreed upon. The odds, he argues, favor Mohamed ElBaradei, but no official nod has been given since political talks are ongoing.

Islamist supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Nour Party are both known to oppose ElBaradei's nomination. Muslim Brotherhood leaders insist they won't participate in any interim political process, either, unless former President Morsi is returned to office.

One middle-aged man in the center of Cairo insisted that he does not support either the Muslim Brotherhood or the opposition, but that everyone needs to cooperate to avoid trouble.

He says that (former) President Morsi won the presidential election [last year] by 51 percent and his rival won 48 percent, making it clear that both sides have almost equal support. For this reason, he argues, it is obvious that everyone must cooperate in order for the country to function.

Militants blew up the main gas pipeline in the northern Sinai early Sunday, causing flames to light the night sky. The pipeline, which provides gas for nearby Jordan, has been attacked frequently since the overthrow of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak in February of 2011.

Egyptian security forces also came under attack in the northern Sinai town of Sheikh Zweyid. An army statement indicated that all Egyptians have the “right to protest,” but urged everyone to behave responsibly.

In the Kazakh capital Astana, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Egypt was “in danger of sliding into a civil war,” insisting that “efforts must be made to prevent that from happening.”

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