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UN Tries Reconciliation in Cairo

  • Elizabeth Arrott

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey D. Feltman addresses a news conference at the presidential palace in capital Mogadishu, Somalia, June 27, 2013.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey D. Feltman addresses a news conference at the presidential palace in capital Mogadishu, Somalia, June 27, 2013.

The United Nations political affairs chief is in Cairo to meet with and seek reconciliation between the military-backed interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood - the focus of a week long security crackdown.

Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman's challenge is daunting. The Brotherhood's spiritual guide, Mohamed Badie, was arrested Tuesday, and his temporary replacement, Mohamed Ezzat, has an arrest warrant out for him as well.

Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president ousted by the military last month, has been remanded for another 15 days of custody in an undisclosed location. Hundreds of other Brotherhood members have been detained in recent days.

In another blow to the 85-year-old organization, Egypt's interim leaders are working on a new draft constitution, one that would explicitly ban religion-based political parties.

The move would likely be welcomed by many in Egypt, who felt Morsi failed to keep his pledge to move beyond a Brotherhood agenda and build an inclusive government. Political analyst Hisham Kassem.

“They need to play according to the rules of politics, not as the representatives of God on Earth,” he said.

But after the violence of the past week, political reconciliation seems still far away.

Along with the arrests, hundreds of people have been killed - most of them anti-government protesters, but also dozens of security personnel. Christians are also under attack, with dozens of their churches burned. Even moderate politician, Nobel-prize winning Mohamed ElBaradei, who resigned the interim vice-presidency over the bloodshed, is facing a court appearance for “breaching national trust.”

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