Brotherhood holds protest day as Egypt cabinet starts work

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Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt called on Wednesday for more mass demonstrations, naming it a “day of steadfastness” to protest against the country’s new interim cabinet lineup.

The protests are set to take place in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiyah Square, a popular venue for supporters of ousted President Mohammed Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The army, which removed Egypt’s first freely elected president from power two weeks ago, accused Mursi’s supporters of inciting armed demonstrations near military bases and trying to turn a political dispute into a religious quarrel.

Wednesday’s planned protests come as the interim cabinet of 35 ministers began its first day on the job.

The cabinet lineup does not include any members from Islamist groups or parties, even from the Salafist Nour party, which supported the military roadmap for transition.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general behind the popularly backed coup that overthrew Mursi, was appointed first deputy prime minister and minister of defense in the government headed by liberal economist Hazem al-Beblawi

Mohammed Ibrahim, the interior minister who was appointed by Mursi, remains in his post, in charge of the police. Nabil Fahmy, who was Egypt’s ambassador to the United States from 1999-2008, becomes foreign minister.

Interim President Adly Mansour named three women in the Cabinet, taking the powerful ministries of information and health as well as the environment ministry. The Cabinet has 33 members, not including el-Beblawi.

Most past governments for decades have had at most two women in them, according to Associated Press

Mansour also swore in an icon of Egyptian soccer as youth minister. Midfielder Taher Abu Zeid starred in Cairo’s el-Ahly club and the national side in the 1980s.

The swearing-in of the new government came only hours after clashes between police and Islamist supporters of Mursi left seven protesters dead in the worst outbreak of violence in a week.

(With AFP, AP and Reuters)