Egypt's presidency denies govt reshuffle, rift with army

Ahram Online, Tuesday 25 Jun 2013

Presidency refutes reports of looming cabinet reshuffle – a longstanding opposition demand – and asserts that military has no quarrel with Egypt's embattled head of state

The Egyptian presidency on Monday denied that there were any plans for an imminent cabinet reshuffle and reiterated that Egypt's military was not at odds with President Mohamed Morsi despite recent speculation to the contrary.

"There are no plans… for a cabinet reshuffle at present," presidential spokesman Omar Amer declared at a news conference held Monday night.

He went on to reiterate earlier statements that there were "no rifts" between the Egyptian Armed Forces and the presidency.

Amer's assertions follow statements made by Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday, in which the latter had declared that the military would intervene to stop the nation from entering a "dark tunnel" of violence and internecine strife.

Some observers interpreted El-Sisi's comments as meaning that the army intended to intervene in Egypt's ongoing political crisis, especially in the event that nationwide anti-government protests – slated for next Sunday – turned violent.

"All state institutions are keen to uphold the [presidency's democratic] legitimacy," Amer told reporters.

"The National Security Council convened today with all its members present [including the defence minister]," he said. "And a Sunday meeting between the defence minister and President Morsi was held to discuss plans for securing vital government institutions" ahead of next week's planned demonstrations.

On Sunday, 30 June, Egyptian opposition forces plan to stage mass rallies to demand that Morsi step down in advance of snap presidential elections.

The replacement of Egypt's current cabinet, including Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, with a government of 'national unity' has been a longstanding demand of Egypt's opposition, which accuses the Morsi-appointed government of being beholden to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood – the group from which the president hails.

Amer added that President Morsi's Wednesday address to the nation would be "very important," stressing that the president would offer a number of "clarifications" regarding recent domestic political developments.

Amer, however, neither confirmed nor denied whether the speech would include the announcement of any major decisions.

Amer also used the occasion to reiterate the presidency's condemnation of Sunday's mob killing of four Egyptian Shia-Muslims, including local Shia leader Hassan Shehata, asserting that such acts would "not be tolerated."

"The deadly attack on Egyptian Shias is a horrible crime and is completely alien to the nation," he said. "The president has ordered that the perpetrators be brought to justice."

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