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Africa

Egypt police arrest former Morsi PM Hisham Kandil

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-25

Egyptian police on Tuesday arrested Hisham Kandil, the former prime minister under toppled Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, as he was trying to flee to Sudan, the government said.

The interior ministry said the ex-premier, who is facing jail after being convicted of failing to respect a court ruling while in office, was arrested in the desert outside Cairo with a "smuggler attempting to escape to Sudan".

An unpopular prime minister who struggled to right a dire economy, Kandil has kept a relatively low profile since the military overthrew Morsi in July.

He represented an alliance of pro-Morsi Islamist groups in meetings with European mediators who tried to defuse tensions with the military-installed government.

The efforts failed in August, with the police launching a massive crackdown that killed more than 1,000 people in street clashes.

In April, while still in office, Kandil was sentenced to a year in prison for not carrying out a ruling to re-nationalise a company that had been privatised in 1996. An appeals court upheld the sentence in September.

Kandil's arrest followed an early-morning car bombing outside the police headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura that killed at least 15 people, including at least 12 policemen.

A polarised country

The explosion, which the country's military-installed authorities suggested was carried out by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, was one of the deadliest since the Islamist leader's ouster, which has bitterly polarised the country.

The Muslim Brotherhood condemned the bombing "in the strongest possible terms".

Analysts said the attack was likely the work of more radical Islamists, who have carried out a string of similar attacks in the Sinai peninsula targeting security forces.

Hours after the bombing, prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi labelled the Brotherhood a "terrorist" group, but did not blame the organisation for the blast.

Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the explosion was meant to "terrorise" people ahead of a constitutional referendum next month billed as the first step in the democratic transition after Morsi's overthrow, to be followed by fresh elections.

Morsi and other Islamists face trial for having allegedly colluded with militants to launch attacks in the country.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned what she called a "terrorist attack".

Morsi became Egypt's first freely elected leader after winning elections last year, but was removed from power after massive protests against his turbulent rule.

More than 2,000 Islamists have been arrested since Morsi's overthrow, virtually the entire top leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The United Nations on Tuesday called for the immediate release of prisoners detained over peaceful protests.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

Date created : 2013-12-25

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