Monday, February 26, 2024

Egypt’s deputy premier quits over deadly clashes

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Cairo: Egypt’s deputy prime minister on Tuesday resigned over clashes that killed 25 people, mainly Coptic Christians, amid mounting anger at the ruling military and calls for the premier to quit.

Hazem al-Beblawi announced his resignation, saying that despite having no direct involvement in the clashes, the government ultimately bore responsibility for what happened.

“The current circumstances are very difficult and require a new and different way of thinking and working,” Beblawi was quoted as saying by the official MENA news agency.

On Sunday, 25 people were killed and more than 300 injured when a protest demonstration by Coptic Christians was attacked by the army and thugs, sparking furious condemnation of the leadership’s handling of the transition from Hosni Mubarak’s rule.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power when Mubarak was ousted in February, had tasked Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s government to immediately form a fact-finding panel to investigate the clashes.

The UN human rights office urged Egypt to ensure that any probes are conducted in an impartial and independent manner.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed regret over the deaths, and urged the authorities “to ensure the impartiality and independence of any investigation undertaken into the incident.”

Political and religious leaders spent yesterday in crisis talks, amid fears of widespread sectarian unrest threatening an already fragile transition. (AFP)

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