Morsi supporters protest outside Cabinet in Cairo | world | Hindustan Times
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Morsi supporters protest outside Cabinet in Cairo

world Updated: Jul 17, 2013 21:23 IST

Several hundred supporters of Egypt's deposed president massed outside the Cabinet building on Wednesday in Cairo, expanding their protests denouncing the country's new government and demanding the reinstatement of Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi.

The rally came as the European Union's top foreign policy official met with the interim leaders, the second senior Western official to visit Egypt this week.

Carrying posters of Morsi and chanting slogans against the military, the demonstrators said the new leadership was illegitimate and accused the military of staging a coup against the country's first democratically elected leader.

Security forces barred them from reaching the Cabinet building, but protesters painted graffiti on the walls calling military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi a killer and traitor.

Islamist protesters have been camped out in two areas of Cairo since shortly before Morsi was ousted by the military on July 3, but organisers called for a massive march Wednesday to the government center a day after interim President Adly Mansour swore in a new 34-member Cabinet.

The new ministers include several prominent figures from liberal and secular factions, as well as three women and three Christians, but none from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.

The protest caused major traffic congestion in a usually busy part of the city of 18 million people.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with Mansour and Mohamed El Baradei, a prominent reform advocate who has been named vice president for international relations.

The international community has been trying to contain the chaos that erupted after Morsi's ouster and return Egypt back on the road to democratic rule.

He was freely elected last year by a narrow majority, but many Egyptians accused him of developing authoritarian tendencies, giving undue influence to his Muslim Brotherhood and failing to effectively tackle any of the country's pressing problems, from a free falling economy to tenuous security and high unemployment.

For most of the two years since the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has been split into two camps - one led by Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies, and another led by secular Egyptians, liberals, Christians and moderate Muslims.

The fault lines remain after Morsi's departure, except that the Islamists are no longer in power and growing increasingly entrenched as the opposition
Morsi and his supporters maintain that Islamist rule has been sabotaged by Mubarak loyalists eager to bounce back to power, an opposition that had no genuine interest in reconciliation and a seemingly endless series of strikes, protests and street violence.

US deputy secretary of state William Burns was in Cairo on Monday to meet with Mansour and el-Sissi. He later said that Washington was committed to helping Egypt succeed in its "second chance" at democracy, a comment that signaled that Washington, while calling for an inclusive transition that would include the Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.