CAIRO – Egypts new president moved to assert his authority and regain control of the streets Saturday even as his Islamist opponents declared his powers illegitimate and issued blood oaths to reinstate Mohammed Morsi, whose ouster by the military has led to dueling protests and deadly street battles between rival sides.
But underscoring the sharp divisions facing the untested leader, Adly Mansour, his office said pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei had been named as interim prime minister but later backtracked on the decision, saying consultations were continuing. A politician close to ElBaradei said the reversal was due to objections by an ultraconservative Islamist party with which the new administration wants to cooperate.
Mansours administration, meanwhile, has begun trying to dismantle Morsis legacy. He fired Morsis intelligence chief and the presidential palaces chief of staff. Prosecutors, meanwhile, ordered four detained stalwarts of Morsis Muslim Brotherhood held for 15 days pending an investigation into the shooting deaths of eight protesters last week.
No major violence was reported between supporters and opponents of Morsi as the two sides sought to regroup after a night of fierce clashes that turned downtown Cairo into a battlefield. Clashes were also fierce in the port city of Alexandria, where thousands from both sides fought each other with automatic rifles, firebombs and clubs.
Fridays violence left 36 dead, taking to at least 75 the number of people killed since the unrest began June 30, when millions of protesters took to the streets on the anniversary of Morsis inauguration as Egypts first democratically elected president.
Morsi, a U.S.-trained engineer who was widely accused by critics of monopolizing power for himself and the Brotherhood as well as his failure to implement democratic and economic reforms, remained under detention in an undisclosed location.
Tensions were still high as tens of thousands of Morsi supporters rallied for a third day near a mosque in a Cairo neighborhood that has traditionally been a stronghold of Islamists, chanting angry slogans against what they called a coup by Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
The general has denied the military staged a coup, saying he was acting on the wishes of millions of Egyptians protesting the ex-Islamist leader.
Setting up another showdown, the youth opposition group behind the series of mass protests that led to Morsis ouster called on Egyptians to take to the streets today to show support for the new order.
The 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak opened the way for the political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.