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Egypt new cabinet sworn in, Brotherhood holds protest day

  • Published at 03:48 pm July 17th, 2013

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called on Wednesday for more mass demonstrations, declaring a "day of steadfastness" to protest against the formation of a new interim cabinet, which began its first day on the job.

The army accused Morsi's supporters of inciting armed demonstrations near military bases and trying to turn a political dispute into a religious quarrel.

Egypt swore in an interim cabinet on Tuesday of 33 ministers, mostly technocrats and liberals. Not one was drawn from the two main Islamist factions that won five straight elections since a 2011 uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The swearing-in took place in an ornate hall hours after overnight street battles between Morsi supporters and the security forces left seven dead and more than 260 wounded, the worst violence in a week.

The interim cabinet is charged with implementing a faster-than-expected army-backed "road map" to restore civilian rule, which foresees parliamentary elections in as few as six months.

Its main task is salvaging an economy wrecked by two and a half years of turmoil. For that, it has been given a lifeline of $12bn in aid from rich Gulf Arab states.

Many of the new cabinet ministers are supporters of deep economic reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund in return for a stalled rescue loan, but investors are sceptical those reforms will be implemented soon. The new planning minister has said it is too soon to restart IMF talks and the Arab cash is enough to sustain Egypt through its transition.

The ousted president has been held at an undisclosed location and has not been charged with a crime, although the authorities have announced investigations into complaints of spying, inciting violence and wrecking the economy.

His supporters say Morsi has been "kidnapped". A military spokesman said he was being held for his own protection.

The authorities have charged the Brotherhood's main leaders with inciting violence during the protests, although in most cases they have not followed through with arrests.

In the lawless Sinai peninsular bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, Islamist militants have called for an uprising against Egypt's military after Morsi's ouster.

At least 13 mainly security personnel have been killed there since July 3, and late on Tuesday assailants used rockets and machine guns to attack an Egyptian army camp near Rafah, a town straddling Sinai and Gaza. Two soldiers were wounded

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