Egypt's Islamists Prepare No-Confidence Motion

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament begins drawing up a no-confidence motion against the military-appointed government .

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Elad Benari,

Hussein Tantawi
Hussein Tantawi

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament began drawing up a no-confidence motion against the military-appointed government Thursday, according to a report in The Associated Press.

The move further escalates the Islamists' increasingly public power struggle with the country's ruling generals.

The Islamists were also squabbling with liberal and secular groups over the commission that is to draw up the nation's new constitution, AP reported. After the Brotherhood took a clear majority on the 100-member body for itself, 25 other members resigned.

The latest was the representative of Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world.

On Thursday, a meeting between the Islamists and liberals chaired by military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi produced no compromises, AP noted.

Liberals fear the Islamists plan to impose their religious agenda on the constitution, while Islamists say liberals are a minority who have no popular support.

Relations between the military and the Brotherhood have deteriorated in recent weeks, as the fundamentalist group has pushed for the army to fire the Cabinet for alleged incompetence. The Brotherhood wants to form a new government, a task it claims is urgent because of Egypt's deteriorating security and economic situation.

AP reported that during a heated session in parliament Thursday, lawmakers lambasted Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri's government for its performance, accusing it of wasting billions of dollars of public funds. Six Cabinet ministers stormed out in protest.

Lawmakers also started drafting a motion for a vote of no confidence in the government, parliamentarian Hussein Ibrahim told AP. He added that parliament, where the Brotherhood and other Islamists hold nearly 75 percent of the seats, will vote on the measure within two weeks.

Egypt's interim constitution does not give parliament the power to dismiss the Cabinet, the report noted, but a no-confidence vote would be a sharp blow to the ruling generals and make it difficult for them to continue backing el-Ganzouri's government.

The Muslim Brotherhood holds nearly half the seats in parliament, making it the largest bloc. Its strength grows even more on some issues in which it is backed by the second-largest bloc, the ultraconservative Islamic Salafis.