THE interim leader of Egypt, Adli Mansour, is struggling to
achieve political consensus after a week in which the gap between
supporters and opponents of the former President, Mohammed Morsi,
widened still further. The Muslim Brotherhood says that its
supporters will keep up their street protests until Mr Morsi, who
was chosen in free and fair elections, is returned to office.
An interim Prime Minister has been appointed, but the
Brotherhood insists that it will turn down any offer to serve in
the transitional administration.
To complicate matters further, the main anti-Muslim Brotherhood
opposition umbrella group, the National Salvation Front, said on
Tuesday night that it rejected a timetable of measures leading to
new elections. The leaders of the populist Tamarrod movement also
refused to accept the proposed timetable.
The army, which intervened last week and removed Mr Morsi from
power, is feeling the full force of the Muslim Brotherhood's anger.
Hostility increased sharply on Monday, when at least 51 Brotherhood
supporters were shot dead by troops outside the building in Cairo
where Mr Morsi is being held.
The army said that soldiers opened fire when armed thugs
attempted to storm the building. The Brotherhood described the
incident as a massacre. The Salafist al-Nour party withdrew from
discussions aimed at choosing an interim Prime Minister and
cabinet, in protest at the killings on Monday.
With the country's two main Islamist groups refusing to
co-operate with Mr Mansour, the chances of achieving political
consensus seem slim. Nevertheless, Mr Mansour has presented a
timetable for the transition towards a new elected administration.
A committee will be formed within the coming two weeks to review
the constitution. A referendum to approve those changes will be
held by December, with parliamentary elections taking place early
next year. After that, polling for a new president will be
For now, this timetable appears to have more academic than
practical value. Even choosing an interim prime minister proved to
be a challenge, with the post eventually going to a former finance
minister, Hazem el-Beblawi. The leader of the NSF, Mohamed
ElBaradei, was appointed interim Deputy President - despite,
confusingly, the Front's apparent rejection of the transition
Shortly after the army takeover last week, the President-Bishop
in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most Revd Mouneer Anis,
issued a statement saying: "Egypt is now free at last from the
oppressive rule of the Muslim Brotherhood." The army, he said, had
taken "the side of the millions of Egyptians who demonstrated in
the streets against President Morsi and the Muslim
Bishop Anis described the military's move as "an answer to the
prayers of so many people from around the world who were praying
for our beloved country, Egypt".
The Bible Society of Egypt, in its online newsletter, urged its
readers to "rejoice with us for the remarkable events happening in
our country. Pray that the unprecedented unity, expressed between
all Egyptians who reject the forceful imposition of political
Islam, will result in a new Egypt, where people with different
persuasions can live alongside one another in harmony."
But there were warnings of darker times ahead. Bishop Anis urged
worshippers to "continue to pray for Christians' protection from
the violent reaction of the Islamists, which already has started".
A Coptic priest in Sinai was shot dead on Saturday, after publicly
praising the actions of the military, and attacks on Christians and
Christian property have been reported in several areas. The Muslim
Brotherhood has criticised the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II for
supporting the ousting of Mr Morsi, and attending the ceremony at
which the country's constitution was suspended.
The General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK,
Bishop Angaelos, said that it was unfortunate that the unified
effort of millions of Egyptians demanding peaceful change was
"being undermined by needless violence and bloodshed". He said
that, starting on Tuesday this week, his Church was dedicating
three days to "prayer for peace, reconciliation, and an end to
needless violence and loss of life in Egypt".
Governments around the world have been uncertain how to react to
these upheavals, with satisfaction that the Islamisation of the
country had been halted matched by concern at the flouting of
democracy. There is general agreement, however, that negotiations
represent the only way forward.
The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said last weekend that it
was "imperative for Egyptians to work together to chart a peaceful
return to civilian control, constitutional order, and democratic
governance", and that political leaders should commit themselves to
a "peaceful and democratic dialogue which includes all of Egypt's
But, while the army and the Muslim Brotherhood remain at
loggerheads, reconciliation is likely to remain beyond reach.