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Updated: Sat, 06 Jul 2013 11:11:18 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Egypt's interim president meets with army head amid deadly clashes



Egypt's interim president meets with army head amid deadly clashes

Egypt's interim president has held talks with the army chief and interior minister following overnight clashes across the country that killed at least 36 people, officials say.

Adly Mansour met with army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is also the defence minister, as well as Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, at the Ittihadiya presidential palace Saturday.

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It was the first time Mansour has worked out of the president's main offices since he was sworn in Thursday as the country's interim leader. Mansour took over a day after the military overthrew Mohammed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president.

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Mansour also met Saturday with leaders of Tamrod, or Rebel, the youth movement that organized the mass anti-Morsi demonstrations, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Mansour was recently appointed by Morsi as chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, and was only sworn in as the chief justice minutes before he took the oath of office as president.

He took the helm of a fiercely divided country.

Enraged by Morsi's overthrow, tens of thousands of the ousted president's supporters poured into the streets Friday, holding rallies that they have vowed to continue until the former leader is returned to office.

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Late Friday, violence erupted in central Cairo as the rival camps clashed on a bridge over the Nile River. Gunfire crackled in the streets and flames leaped from a burning car. The chaotic scenes ended only after the army rushed in with armored vehicles to separate the warring groups.

The clashes had accelerated after the supreme leader of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, defiantly proclaimed his followers would not give up street action until the toppled president's return to office.

"God make Morsi victorious and bring him back to the palace," Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie proclaimed Friday before cheering supporters at a Cairo mosque in his first appearance since the overthrow. "We are his soldiers we defend him with our lives."

Badie said it was a matter of honour for the military to abide by its pledge of loyalty to the president, in what appeared to be an attempt to pull it away from its leadership.

Hours later, his deputy, Khairat el-Shater, considered the most powerful figure in the organization, was arrested in a Cairo apartment along with his brother on allegations of inciting violence, Interior Ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif told The Associated Press.

Across the country, clashes erupted as Morsi supporters tried to storm local government buildings or military facilities, battling police or Morsi opponents. Mohammed Sultan, deputy head of the national ambulance service, said at least 36 people were killed in Friday's clashes, the highest death toll in one day since the protests began last Sunday. Another 1,076 were injured.

CBC reporters in Egypt

CBC's Derek Stoffel, said the army claimed it would only be using tear gas and blank rounds during the incident.

On Friday evening, Stoffel said the environment was "very tense, very dangerous" as opposing protesters clashed.

Stoffel said clashes and unrest are expected to continue into the morning, and possibly in the days ahead.

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CBC's Nahlah Ayed, also in Cairo, said that the violence is "precisely the kind of incident that was feared today."

She said helicopters have been in the sky all day, shuttling between Tahrir Square and the part of town where pro-Morsi protesters have gathered.

In his first public appearance since he was sworn in, Mansour was photographed at the Muslim Friday prayers, which he performed at a mosque near his house in a suburb west of Cairo.

"I want everyone to pray for me. Your prayers are what I need from you," he told worshippers who approached him to shake his hand and wish him well, according to the independent daily el-Tahrir.

The paper said the president spoke to its reporter in a brief interview after the prayer. The president's office could not be immediately reached to confirm the comments.

"We all need national reconciliation and we will work to realize it," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "Egypt is for everyone."

With files from CBC News

External Links

Muslim Brotherhood's English-language website

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