Members of Egypt's new military-backed interim government took the oath of office Tuesday, following violence overnight between police and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
The new Egyptian interim cabinet was sworn in before interim President Adly Mansour in a ceremony at the presidential palace. The new ministers vowed to defend Egypt's constitution, its republican form of government and its borders.
Veteran economist Hazem el Beblawi, who heads the new cabinet, was the first to be sworn in. Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el Sissi, the military leader who was key in ousting President Mohamed Morsi, continues in his post and becomes first deputy prime minister.
The new interim government is a mix of political figures and technocrats. The 35-member cabinet includes three women, several Christians and several figures who are Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Nour Party refused to participate.
Scattered clashes in Cairo overnight left at least seven people dead and scores wounded. Security forces arrested 400 people for questioning about the violence.
The bloodshed came after supporters of the ousted elected president tried to block traffic at several key intersections and along a main Cairo bridge. Police and residents of nearby Giza stopped the protesters before they were able to cross the bridge.
Al Ahram Online reported that some Morsi supporters were holed up at a mosque near Ramsis Square where violence first broke out. Witnesses say police fired tear gas to prevent the protesters from reaching nearby Tahrir Square where Morsi opponents were camped out.
Egypt's presidential spokesman Ahmed Muslimany told journalists the country's tumultuous recent history, including the divisive eras of two former presidents and a military government, had pitted Egyptians against each other:
He said that three different political periods of recent history have created rival ideologies and pitted everyone against everyone else. He said Egypt's interim presidency was now proposing that everyone work with each other, respecting each other's points of view, and living together despite their differences.
Muslimany went on to say that each rival political faction contains both moderates and extremists. But, he argued, political life in every country centered on these factions coming to a consensus, since cooperation was needed for society to function.
Visiting Deputy U.S. Secretary of State William Burns echoed those ideas, urging Egypt's new interim leaders not to exclude anyone from a new government. Egyptians, he insisted, must “come together to find a nonviolent and inclusive path forward.”
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi offer their Friday prayer where protesters have installed their camp and held their daily rally, at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, July 19, 2013.
A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi offers his Friday prayer where protesters have installed their camp and held their daily rally, at Nasr city, Cairo, Egypt, July 19, 2013.
A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi holds up a sign with an image of Morsi as they protest at the Rabaa el-Adawiya square where they are camping in Cairo, July 19, 2013.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold up placards as they shout slogans during a demonstration where protesters have installed their camp, at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, July 19, 2013.
Egyptian riot police stand guard during a demonstration by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, near Tahrir Square in Cairo, July 17, 2013.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi, demonstrate near Tahrir Square in Cairo, July 17, 2013.
Supporters of Mohamed Morsi make a fire to stop the effects of tear gas fired by riot police in central Cairo, July 15, 2013.
A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi wears an Islamic veil which reads "There is no god but God, Mohammed is the messenger of God," during a rally in front of Cairo University, July 16, 2013.
A firework fired by opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi explodes during clashes in downtown Cairo, July 15, 2013.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi block Giza square during a march near Cairo University, where protesters have been camped out, Cairo, July 15, 2013.
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi cools people off during afternoon prayers at the Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo, July 15, 2013.
A Morsi supporter arranges flags for sale in Nasr city, Cairo, July 15, 2013.
A supporter of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi attaches a poster at a blocked road linked to the Republican Guard building in Cairo, Egypt, July 15, 2013.
An Egyptian soldier keeps watch from atop a military vehicle in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, July 14, 2013.