CAIRO: Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei tops the list of candidates for premier to lead Egypt out of its crisis, the presidency said on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), after bloodshed followed the ouster of the country’s first freely elected head of state.
Supporters of the overthrown Islamist Mohamed Morsi called for further protests as an advisor to his interim successor said the new rulers extended an olive branch to the Islamists.
The Tamarod movement, which engineered mass protests culminating in Morsi’s overthrow by the military on Wednesday, said ElBaradei had been appointed after talks with Egypt’s new caretaker leader.
State news agency Middle East News Agency and other official sources confirmed the appointment, but a presidential aide said later that a prime minister had yet to be named, while adding ElBaradei “is the logical choice”.
“ElBaradei is the strongest candidate,” presidential advisor and spokesman Ahmed al-Muslimani said. “He is on top of the list of names” under discussion, he said.
A source close to the negotiations said that various camps that agreed to the military’s roadmap for a political transition were still trying to convince the Salafist Al-Nour Party to back ElBaradei.
The initial reports of ElBaradei’s appointment had been greeted with cheers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Ittihadiya presidential palace, where opponents of Morsi set off firecrackers, frantically waved Egyptian flags and honked car horns.
However they came as the Muslim Brotherhood staged a new show of force to demand the military restore Morsi to power, after 24 hours of violence that left 37 people dead and over 1,400 injured..
Many of the Islamist movement’s senior leaders have been arrested.
In a press conference, Muslimani said “we extend our hand to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“I think the Muslim Brotherhood has many opportunities in the coming period, to enter elections,” he said.
Tamarod, the grassroots protest movement which has called for demonstrations on Sunday to counter the Islamists, had nominated ElBaradei to represent it in negotiations with the military.
ElBaradei, 71, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He returned to Egypt in 2010 and became a prominent opponent of Hosni Mubarak in the lead-up to the 2011 uprising that overthrew the veteran strongman.