New cabinet sworn in by Egypt's interim government

July 16, 2013 at 12:57 PM
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CAIRO, July 16 (UPI) -- Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour swore in a new cabinet in Cairo Tuesday, led by Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi.

The cabinet consists of 34 ministers who will oversee agencies ranging from defense and housing to sports, antiquities and social solidarity. Two military officers were among those sworn in on a day when street clashes between Islamist protesters and police were reported in the capital's downtown streets and in other Egyptians cities.

Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, was sworn in as deputy prime minister and minister of defense. Lt. Gen. Reda Hafez took over as minister of military production, which oversees Egypt's defense plants.

Ahram Online said Mukhtar Gomaa was sworn in as minister of religious endowments. Gomaa is considered to be a moderate Islamic college administrator.

Most other ministers were also from Egypt's business community or had mainstream experience in their fields.

El-Beblawi and Mansour were installed after former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted July 3 in what Morsi's supporters called a military coup.

Clashes Monday night left seven people dead and about 200 injured.

Islamic militants have conducted most of their protests at a central encampment since June 8, when soldiers and police officers opened fire on supporters of Morsi, killing more than 50 people.

Thousands of Islamic militants left the encampment Monday evening, blocking a bridge that is a key access point, The New York Times said. They threw rocks at police officers, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The violent confrontations came hours after the United States delivered its clearest statement yet on the ouster of Morsi, the newspaper said.

Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns warned Egyptian military leaders would endanger the country's "second chance" at a democratic transition if a new interim government maintained its hard-line stance on Morsi Islamist supporters.

"If representatives of some of the largest parties in Egypt are detained or excluded, how are dialogue and participation possible?" Burns asked reporters after meeting with Egypt's military leaders and interim government officials.

"It is hard to picture how Egypt will be able to emerge from this crisis unless its people come together to find a non-violent and inclusive path forward," said Burns, the most senior U.S. official to visit Cairo since Morsi -- Egypt's first freely elected president -- was removed.

"The United States is firmly committed to helping Egypt succeed in this second chance to realize the promise of the revolution," Burns said.

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