CAIRO — Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood today rejected a new timetable announced by the military-backed interim leadership that sets a fast track for amending the Islamist-drafted constitution and holding new parliamentary and presidential elections by early next year.
The quick issuing of the transition plan showed how Egypt’s new leadership is shrugging off Islamists’ vows to reverse the military’s ousting of President Mohammed Morsi and wants to quickly entrench a post-Morsi political system.
Egypt’s military also likely aims to show the United States and other Western nations that the country is moving quickly back to an elected civilian leadership. Washington has expressed concern over the removal of Egypt’s first freely elected president, and if the U.S. government determines that the army’s move qualifies as a coup it would have to cut off more than a $1 billion in aid to Egypt, mostly to the military. The Obama administration has said doing so would not be in U.S. interests.
Egypt’s political divide was further enflamed Monday by one of the worst single incidents of bloodshed in 2 1/2 years of turmoil: Security forces killed more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters in clashes at a sit-in by Islamists. The military accused armed Islamists of sparking the fighting, but Morsi supporters said troops opened fire on them without provocation after dawn prayers.
Since then, the military and allied media have depicted the campaign to restore Morsi as increasingly violent and infused with armed extremists. Islamists, in turn, have talked of the military aiming to crush them after what they say was a coup to wreck democracy.
Essam el-Erian, a senior Brotherhood figure and deputy head of its Freedom and Justice Party, rejected the transition timetable, saying it takes the country “back to zero.”