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Egypt's new leaders get boost from Gulf

10 July 2013, 13:07

Cairo - Egypt's new leaders have won $8bn in promises of aid from wealthy Gulf Arab allies in moves aimed at stabilising a political transition less than a week after the army deposed the country's Islamist president.

Also on Tuesday, the interim president named a new prime minister and Egyptian armed forces warned political factions that "manoeuvring" must not hold up the military's ambitious fast-track timetable for new elections next year.

The sharp message underlined how strongly the military is shepherding the process, even as liberal reform movements that backed its removal of Mohammed Morsi complained that now they are not being consulted in decision-making.

The Muslim Brotherhood denounced the transition plan, vowing to continue its street protests until the ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, is returned to power.

Tuesday's appointment of economist Hazem el-Beblawi as prime minister, along with the setting of the accelerated timetable, underlined the army's determination to push ahead in the face of Islamist opposition and outrage over the killing of more than 50 Morsi supporters on Monday.

Welcome boost

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided a welcome boost for the new leadership.

The two countries, both opponents of Morsi's Brotherhood, celebrated his ouster by showering the cash-strapped Egyptian government with promises of $8bn in grants, loans and badly needed gas and oil.

In doing so, they are effectively stepping in for Morsi's Gulf patron, Qatar, a close ally of the Brotherhood that gave his government several billion in aid.

During Morsi's year in office, he and his officials toured multiple countries seeking cash to prop up rapidly draining foreign currency reserves and plug mounting deficits — at times getting a cold shoulder.


The developments underlined the pressures on the new leaders even with the country still in turmoil after what Morsi's supporters have called a coup against democracy.

The military faces calls, from the US and Western allies in particular, to show that civilians are in charge and Egypt is on a path toward a democratically-based leadership.

The nascent government will soon face demands that it tackle economic woes that mounted under Morsi, including fuel shortages, electricity cutoffs and inflation.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney said Washington is "cautiously encouraged" by the announcement of a plan to return to democratically elected government.

- AP


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