Women, Christians, but no Islamists in Egypt’s new Cabinet

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The first Egyptian Cabinet since the overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi was sworn in on Tuesday, granting liberal opposition members key portfolios.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the influential movement from which Mursi hails, rejected the 35-member cabinet, with spokesman Gehad El-Haddad telling AFP: “We don’t recognize its legitimacy or its authority.”

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.

The overnight riots broke also soon after the most senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since Mursi was toppled concluded a round of talks with the country’s interim leaders in which he called for the Brotherhood to be included in the political process.

(With AP and AFP)