Updated: 2013-07-19 07:08
The inauguration of Egypt's interim government, which was sworn in on Tuesday, offers a ray of hope that the world's biggest Muslim country can emerge from the turmoil that has afflicted the country since the army ousted Mohamed Morsi last month.
But the interim government faces daunting challenges and any misstep could easily throw the country into even greater turmoil.
The absence of any figures from Islamist parties alone poses a formidable challenge for the interim government and will hinder the reconciliation process. Even though the new line-up was acceptable to the majority of the country's political and religious forces, without the participation and cooperation of Islamist parties, the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, the prospects for reconciliation look bleak.
On Tuesday, the Muslim Brotherhood refused any talk about national reconciliation, calling the new government "illegitimate", and it has refused to recognize it. The Brotherhood is demanding Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, be returned to power.
Last week, some 50 Morsi supporters were killed during clashes with opponents nationwide. A clash in Cairo on Tuesday left seven people dead. It is imperative the interim government put an end to such violence and bloodshed as soon as possible, otherwise any appeal for national reconciliation will ring hollow.
To address the root cause of the violence, the interim government needs to do its utmost to engage all political forces in the country.
Dialogue, instead of confrontation, is the only choice for all parties in Egypt if the country is to achieve national reconciliation and revitalization.
Apart from the ongoing turmoil, the economy will be a top concern for the interim government. The inability to revive the economy contributed to Morsi's unpopularity and his ousting by the army. Given that the structural problems in Egypt's economy will not be solved overnight and the country needs deeper economic reforms, the interim government is facing a tough challenge.
For the nation to restore order, properly address its economic woes and start the reconciliation process, it is essential that all political forces in Egypt put the interests of the nation and the Egyptian people first. Any pursuit of political gains will be meaningless if the country continues to be mired in turbulence and hatred.
(China Daily USA 07/19/2013 page15)