Mohammed ElBaradei’s Appointment As Prime Minister Now On Hold

Contradicting earlier reports, the appointment of Mohammed ElBaradei as Interim Prime Minister of Egypt now seems to be in doubt, which may be a sign that the civilian coalition being propped up by the military may not be as united as claimed:

CAIRO — Divisions opened Saturday in the mixed coalition of Egyptian activists and politicians who banded together against their country’s Islamist government last week, with a dispute over who would become the interim prime minister showing sharp disagreements about the proper scope of religion in the country’s politics.

Egyptian state media reported — and later rolled back the announcement — that Mohamed ElBaradei, a former chief of the U.N. nuclear agency, had been appointed Egypt’s interim prime minister. The reversal came after Islamists who joined in the coalition against ousted president Mohamed Morsi threatened to withdraw their support if ElBaradei were installed.

“Indications are directed at a certain name, but talks are still ongoing,” said Ahmed el-Moslemany, a spokesman for interim President Adly Mansour, speaking late Saturday at a news conference that had been billed as an announcement of a new prime minister.

The unusual back-and-forth suggested that ElBaradei — a divisive figure in Egypt who is seen as a staunch secularist by groups who want a greater role for religion in politics — may have proved too controversial a choice as prime minister. A top aide to ElBaradei had also portrayed the appointment as a done deal Saturday.

But as reports of ElBaradei’s selection filtered out, leaders of the ultraconservative Salafist Nour party threatened to withdraw from the broad coalition of groups backing a path toward elections.

“The nomination of ElBaradei violates the road map that the political and national powers had agreed on with General Abdel Fatah al-Sissi,” Ahmed Khalil, the Nour party’s deputy leader, told the state-run al-Ahram newspaper.

Many Islamists view ElBaradei as uninterested in giving them a say in Egypt’s affairs.

“Baradei in a way is kind of the ultimate liberal,” said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Doha Center. “He has a very antagonistic relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is why it doesn’t bode well for Brotherhood reintegration” if he were to come to power.

ElBaradei also canceled an appearance on Meet The Press at the last minute for supposed “medical reasons,” while still insisting that he expects to be officially named to the position of Prime Minister today. We’ll see, I suppose. At the very least, though, this seems to indicate that things aren’t quite as united at the top of the military’s appointed government as they’d like the people to believe.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.