* Senior U.S. official to visit Egypt, first since overthrow
* Unclear if Burns will meet Mursi's Brotherhood supporters
* New cabinet to be formed, more protests called
By Shadia Nasralla and Ulf Laessing
CAIRO, July 15 The first senior U.S. official to
visit Egypt since the army toppled the country's elected
president will hold high-level talks on Monday in Cairo, where
thousands of supporters of the ousted Islamist leader are
expected to take to the streets.
Egyptians have been shocked by violent protests that have
killed 92 people. However, despite deep divisions between those
who supported and those who opposed overthrown President Mohamed
Mursi, they are united by their suspicion of Washington's
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns may face
awkward questions when he visits Cairo, where portraits of the
American ambassador, Anne Patterson, have been overwritten with
the words "Go home, witch." Burns, an Arabic speaker, would not
miss the point.
Burns' visit, which will include talks with the military,
comes as Egypt's interim prime minister finalises his cabinet.
It has been given the task of implementing a military-backed
plan to hold parliamentary elections in about six months' time
and to return Egypt to civilian rule. The army toppled Mursi on
July 3 when millions took to the streets to demand he resign.
The move sparked outrage among followers of Mursi, Egypt's
first freely elected president, and street battles between them
and his opponents swept the country on July 5 leaving 35 dead.
A week ago, 53 Mursi supporters were killed by soldiers at
the Republican Guard compound in Cairo in a clash the army
blamed on an attack on its troops by demonstrators, but which
Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement called a "massacre".
Four soldier also died in the clash. Subsequent protests by
the Brotherhood have mobilised tens of thousands to take to the
streets, but they have passed off peacefully.
The crisis in the Arab world's most populous state, which
signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and which straddles
the strategic Suez Canal waterway, has alarmed allies in the
region and the West.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department said Burns would
"underscore U.S. support for the Egyptian people, an end to all
violence, and a transition leading to an inclusive,
democratically elected civilian government."
The United States has studiously avoided calling Mursi's
overthrow a coup, because, under U.S. laws dating back to the
1980s, to do so would mean stopping the $1.3 billion in military
aid it gives Egypt each year.
The Brotherhood said it was a coup, but the head of Egypt's
armed forces, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said the military was
enforcing the will of the people after huge crowds took to the
streets on June 30 to pressure Mursi into stepping down.
What pro- and anti-Mursi camps do agree on is a belief that
the United States conspired to help the other side.
It was not clear whether Burns would meet members of the
Brotherhood during his visit, which is scheduled to end on
GENERAL DEFENDS INTERVENTION
In a speech to a hall full of military officers on Sunday,
Sisi justified the takeover. He said the president had lost
legitimacy because of the mass demonstrations against him.
The general, whose intervention is popular with many
Egyptians, said he tried to avert the need for unilateral action
by offering Mursi the option of holding a referendum on his
rule, but "the response was total rejection".
Sisi also insisted the political process remained open to
all groups - though Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood has shunned
dealings with "usurpers".
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad dismissed the speech.
"The guy is either lying or his troops are operating without
his knowledge, because the only thing we are seeing from him are
arbitrary arrests, confiscation of assets and killing of our
protesters," he said.
Mursi has been held incommunicado at an undisclosed location
since he was removed from power. The authorities have not
charged him with a crime, but said on Saturday that they were
investigating complaints against him over spying, inciting
violence and wrecking the economy.
The public prosecutor said it had ordered the freezing of
the assets of 14 Brotherhood and other Islamist leaders.
Thousands of Mursi's followers have maintained a vigil at a
crossroads near a mosque in northeast Cairo, where they have
braved brutal summer heat and daytime fasting during Ramadan to
push their demand for the leader to be reinstated.
"Is it allowed anywhere else in the world for an elected
president with 51 percent of the vote to just disappear, and the
voters don't know where he is?" asked Hani Abdel Ghani, an
engineer, standing amid rows of tents erected to shelter the
protesters from the sun and give them somewhere to sleep.
According to the state MENA news agency, army helicopters
flew over the crowd late on Sunday and dropped fliers exhorting
them to renounce violence and end their sit-in.
Mursi's opponents have also called for demonstrations on
Monday, though their protests are attracting far fewer people
now that they have achieved their aim of bringing him down.
MINISTERS LINED UP
Hazem el-Beblawi has appointed most key ministers, including
U.S.-educated economist Ahmed Galal as finance minister.
His job will be to rescue an economy wrecked by two and a
half years of political turmoil since autocrat Hosni Mubarak was
toppled in a popular uprising in 2011.
The task became easier, at least in the short term, after
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait promised a
total of $12 billion in cash, loans and fuel.
Beblawi's challenge is setting up a government that will
appear inclusive without the biggest Islamist party.
After the Brotherhood rejected the process altogether,
authorities have instead been courting the second biggest
Islamist group, the ultra-orthodox Nour Party, sometime Mursi
allies who broke with him and accepted the army takeover.
Nour says it has withdrawn from the transition plan because
of state violence and is not seeking ministerial posts of its
own, but will back technocrats and offer "advice" to Beblawi.