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Morsi Loyalists Protest as Egypt's New Government Begins Work

  • VOA News

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans around the prime minister's office in Cairo, July 17, 2013.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans around the prime minister's office in Cairo, July 17, 2013.

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are continuing their mass protests against the political transition underway in Egypt, following the formation of a new interim Cabinet that has no members from Islamist parties.

Street demonstrations continued Wednesday outside Cairo's main government buildings demanding Morsi be returned to power.

"I have come here to protect my vote," one protester said. "I went out to vote in five elections. And then they just trampled on it. So let's go down their path - how can we be sure the army won't take power again? It's unacceptable. We are willing to die here."

The protests are expected to peak after the iftar evening meal when Muslims break their Ramadan fast.

US reviewing situation

In Amman, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters the Obama administration is reviewing whether Morsi's overthrow this month by Egypt's military should be considered a coup, which could require Washington to suspend about $1.5 billion in aid (of which $1.3 billion is in the form of military assistance).

Kerry said the fact that Egypt has moved quickly into a "constitutional process" with a new interim Cabinet filled by “incredibly competent people” would be "measured against the [U.S.] law."

New Cabinet

The new Cabinet led by interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi is composed mainly of liberals and technocrats. Three female ministers were appointed, filling the health, information and environment portfolios.

It has seven holdovers from the previous administration, including the army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Morsi and serves as defense minister and deputy prime minister.

EU foreign policy chief meets leaders

Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton became the latest international figure to meet with Egypt's interim leaders, including President Adly Mansour, when she visited the Egyptian capital Wednesday.

An EU spokesman said Ashton stressed the need for Egypt to quickly "return to a full, inclusive, democratic process."

Unlike U.S. envoy William Burns earlier in the week, Ashton is also expected to meet senior figures in Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist group insists the ousted president be reinstated and has refused to take part in any interim government.

Morsi's removal has bitterly divided Egypt, with thousands of his supporters maintaining a vigil in a Cairo square to demand his return, swelling to tens of thousands for mass demonstrations every few days.

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