US suggests Egyptian military averted civil war
Updated: 2013-07-18 08:19
Wednesday's protests were mostly peaceful, although there were scuffles when a crowd marched through the city centre and along the Nile riverbank, held back by riot police as they approached Tahrir Square, focus for anti-Mursi protests.
"We have only two goals, legitimacy or martyrdom," said Ahmed Ouda, 27. Another man interrupted to add: "Peaceful martyrdom!"
An interim cabinet of 33 ministers, mostly technocrats and liberals, was sworn in on Tuesday. Not one was drawn from the two main Islamist groups that together have won five elections since the 2011 uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
In another worrying sign for the new government's ability to build consensus, the slate was also denounced by the April 6 youth group, which led early street protests against Mubarak.
"The cabinet included a number of ministers who failed before when they were holding former official posts along with another number of ministers who belong to the regime of ousted president Mubarak," the April 6 group said in a statement.
Ashton met interim head of state Adli Mansour, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi and other government figures, telling reporters afterwards it was up to Egypt to choose its own path but that it should seek to reconcile feuding factions.
"I underlined the importance of a very inclusive process because this country belongs to everyone and they must feel part of that process," she said, calling for the release of Mursi.
The new cabinet is charged with implementing an army-backed "road map" to restore civilian rule, which foresees parliamentary elections in as little as six months.
Its main task is salvaging an economy wrecked by two and a half years of turmoil. For that, it has been given a lifeline of $12 billion in aid from rich Gulf Arab states.
Many of the new cabinet ministers are supporters of deep economic reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund in return for a stalled rescue loan, but investors are sceptical those reforms will be implemented soon.
Finance Minister Ahmed Galal said on Wednesday that an IMF loan was only "part of the solution" to the country's problems.
"We need time to read and study the issues and files on the ground to come up with sound and well thought-out decisions that will pave the way and build the future for governments to come," he said in a statement.