Opposition leader named Egypt interim PM

CAIRO - Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has been named Egypt's new prime minister, officials said Saturday.

He will be sworn in Saturday evening, National Salvation Front spokesman Khaled Dawoud told the Associated Press.

ElBaradei, 71, heads the National Salvation Front, Egypt's main coalition of opposition parties. He was head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

The prime minister appointment comes as part of a transition plan days after Egypt's military, with the support of millions of protesters, ousted former president Mohamed Morsi. A new president, Adly Mansour, was sworn in Thursday. On Friday, Egypt's legislative body was officially dissolved, and the constitution has also been suspended.

ElBaradei's appointment takes place amid widening crisis in Egypt as clashes killed at least 36 people across Egypt.

ElBaradei has led the opposition to autocrat Hosni Mubarak, toppled by a popular uprising in 2011, and later to Morsi, the Islamist president forced out by the military earlier this week..

Earlier in the day, opposition figure Mohamed Abou El Ghar told USA TODAY that it was the opposition's plan for ElBaradei to be the new prime minister, and said that "almost all of the parties now participating in the political activity" approved of the choice.

"We want to make a road map, or ask him to make a road map, as soon as possible with a rather early date for elections," Abou El Ghar said.

Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center, said ElBaradei's selection is not a good omen for the Muslim Brotherhood considering the antagonist nature of their relationship, which several years ago was warm and cordial.

"Now they are arch enemies of sorts," he said.

But it is unclear how much real power the prime minister will hold in the transitional period, and what exactly ElBaradei's appointment means for the Brotherhood.

Hamid said the army is ultimately going to be making the security decisions, and that for the new regime the Brotherhood is primarily a security issue, not a political one.

"At the end of the day ElBaradei is not his own man here," Hamid said. "In the interim period the army is going to be calling the shots and to what extent to include the Muslim Brotherhood in dialogue," he said.

Meanwhile, Egypt increased security forces near supporters of Morsi who were gathered on the streets as worries grew about prospects for renewed violence.

Morsi's supporters were massed in a sit-in demonstration outside a mosque in a section of the city where the Muslim Brotherhood has maintained a stronghold.

There were no reports of major clashes following a night of street battles, but in the northern Sinai peninsula, gunmen shot and killed a Christian priest while he shopped for food in an outdoor market.

It was not immediately clear if the shooting was linked to the political crisis, but there has been a backlash against Christians just before and after Morsi's ouster. Attacks have occurred on members of the minority by Islamists in at least three provinces south of Egypt. Christians account for about 10% of Egypt's 90 million people. Morsi's Brotherhood and hard-line allies claim Christians played a big part in inciting protests against the ousted leader.

In the capital, a fraction of the city's normally heavy traffic was on the streets Saturday amid worries that violence could flare again after claiming at least 75 lives in the past week.

Mansour, met Saturday with army chief and Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as well as Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, at the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace, to consider authorities' next moves.

It was the first time Mansour, who formally dissolved the parliament Friday, has worked out of the president's main offices since he was sworn in Thursday as the country's interim leader. Mansour, who was appointed by the military, took over a day after the military overthrew Morsi, who was the country's first democratically elected president.

At least 12 deaths were reported in clashes in Alexandria, the country's second-largest city, after Islamists opened fire on a rally of Morsi opponents, a medical services official told the Associated Press. Police sided with Morsi protesters in the Mediterranean coastal city.

More than 400 were reported injured nationwide, the Health Ministry said.

In Cairo, the bloodiest confrontation came as troops opened fire on protesters outside the Republican Guards military barracks where the ousted president is being held. A Health Ministry official told the Associated Press that four people were killed.

Hundreds of demonstrators had marched to the site following afternoon prayers, chanting, "After sunset, President Morsi will be back in the palace."

At nightfall, a crowd of Islamists surged across the October 6 Bridge over the Nile River and clashed with Morsi opponents near Tahrir Square and outside the state TV building. One witness reported gunfire and stone-throwing, and one person was killed, said Khaled el-Khatib, of the Health Ministry.

Late Friday, military armored vehicles arrived on the bridge and outside the TV station to stop the fighting, and Morsi supporters retreated.


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