The chief justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court was sworn in Thursday as the nation’s interim president, taking over hours after the military ousted the Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
At the same time, Egyptian security forces widened a crackdown on the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group, arresting its leader and hundreds of others, according to officials.
Adly Mansour took the oath of office at the Nile-side Constitutional Court in a ceremony broadcast live on state television and called on the Muslim Brotherhood to join the effort to rebuild the country. According to military decree, Mansour will serve as Egypt’s interim leader until a new president is elected. A date for that vote has yet to be set.
Even as Mansour invited the Brotherhood to participate in a new Egypt, the Egyptian authorities arrested Mohammed Badie, the chief of the group.
Security officials said Badie was arrested Wednesday night in a resort village in Marsa Matrouh, a Mediterranean coastal city west of Cairo not far from the Libyan border. He had been staying in a villa owned by a businessman with Brotherhood links.
The officials spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater are wanted for questioning on their role in the killing this week of eight protesters in clashes outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters.
Badie and el-Shater have been widely believed to be the source of real power in Egypt during the rule of ousted president Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.
Morsi and some 300 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders are believed to have been arrested by Egyptian authorities during the current crisis.
Morsi and 15 other Islamists are being probed by judicial authorities for insulting the country’s courts, a judge told Reuters.
Morsi has been held in an unknown location since the generals pushed him out Wednesday.
The Brotherhood announced it would boycott the new military-sponsored political process and called on its supporter to restrain themselves and not use violence.
“We declare our uncompromising rejection of the military coup staged against the elected president and the will of the nation and refuse to participate in any activist with the usurping authorities,” said the statement, which the group’s mufti Abdel-Rahman el-Barr read to the Morsi’s supporters staging a days-long sit-in in Cairo.
In his first remarks, Mansour praised the massive street demonstrations that led to Morsi’s ouster. He also hailed the youth behind the protests that began on June 30, saying they embodied “the nation’s conscience, its ambitions and hopes.”
“The most glorious thing about June 30 is that it brought together everyone without discrimination or division,” he said. “I offer my greetings to the revolutionary people of Egypt.”
“The Muslim Brotherhood is part of the people and is invited to participate in building the nation. Nobody will be excluded. If they respond to the invitation, they will be welcomed,” he said.
Mansour replaces Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president but was overthrown by the military on Wednesday after just one year in office. Morsi is under house arrest at an undisclosed location.
The military, in a statement read by army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday evening, also suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution and called for new elections.
Opposition chief Mohammed ElBaradei is thought to head the list of potential candidates to head the transitional government, officials told Reuters on Thursday.
A former International Atomic Energy Agency chief and Nobel prize laureate, ElBaradei was chosen to represent the opposition groups that had been calling for Morsi’s ouster.
Standing alongside el-Sissi Wednesday night, ElBaradei threw his support behind the army’s roadmap for a transition government, saying it will bring social justice to Egypt.
Morsi has denounced the action as a “full coup” by the generals.
Some 300 Muslim Brotherhood leaders are believed to have been arrested by Egyptian authorities during the current crisis.
“In the space of one night, we are back 60 years,” Amr Darrag, a former Muslim Brotherhood minister and a senior party member, was quoted in the Guardian as saying. “All of our leaders are being arrested in the middle of the night. Their houses are being stormed. Their children are being scared. All of our remaining leaders are banned from travel and this is just the start.
“Yesterday we were part of the government doing what we thought was best for Egypt. Even if you don’t agree with us, this has gone too far.”
Millions of anti-Morsi protesters around the country erupted in celebrations after the televised announcement by the army chief on Wednesday evening. Fireworks burst over crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where men and women danced, shouting, “God is great” and “Long live Egypt.”