Tense Egypt braces for more rival demonstrations

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CAIRO: Activists for and against ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi have called rival rallies for the first Friday of Ramadan, as tensions soar over the army’s overthrow of the Islamist leader.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the influential group from which Morsi emerged, has vowed to keep protesting until he is reinstated.

The group has called separate rallies across Cairo, but the group’s ability to mobilize remains in question with much of its leadership detained, on the run or keeping a low profile.

The anti-Morsi camp has also called for rallies, including a mass iftar—the breaking of the Muslim fast—in Tahrir Square.

The military’s overthrow of Morsi last week after millions took to the streets demanding his resignation has sparked deadly clashes and deepened divisions in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Egypt’s new premier said on Thursday he did not rule out Muslim Brotherhood members in his cabinet, even as the group vowed to keep defying the coup.

Hazem al-Beblawi, who was appointed on Tuesday, said in a telephone interview: “I don’t look at political association . . .

“If someone is named from [the Brotherhood’s]Freedom and Justice Party, if he is qualified for the post” he may be considered.

“I’m taking two criteria for the next government. Efficiency and credibility,” he added.

Beblawi said he wanted to decide on the best candidates before asking them to join the government.

The Brotherhood has already rejected a Beblawi offer to join the new government. They said the mass rally called for Friday was against what it called “a bloody military coup.”

The United States meanwhile said it was pressing ahead with plans to deliver four F-16 fighters to Egypt, a US official said.

There was no decision to halt the scheduled transfer of the warplanes or to cut off other security assistance to Egypt, the official said on condition of anonymity, even though Washington has announced a review of all aid to Cairo.

President Barack Obama’s administration has said it is examining whether the military takeover constitutes a coup, which under US law would force Washington to freeze any aid to Egypt.

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