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Egypt prime minister to make security, economy top priorities

Egypt’s new prime minister has said security will be his government’s top priority as it leads the country into a presidential election. He also called for a halt to protests and strikes.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlib used a televised speech on Sunday, his first full day on the job, to pledge to confront the challenges facing Egypt with both firmness and transparency.

"The first priority is to impose security, counter terrorism firmly and legally, and restore stability by preserving human rights and democracy," Mehlib said.

"I know that the responsibility is big, that the challenges are bigger. But together, we will face all crises and steer the nation's ship to the shore of security."

He also called for a national effort to rebuild the country and its shattered economy, beginning with an end to work stoppages.

"Stop all kinds of sit-ins, protests and strikes. Let us start building the nation," Mehlib said a day after he and his cabinet had been sworn into office by interim President Adly Mansour, following the suprise resignation of his predecessor.

"No voice must be louder than the voice of construction and development," he added. "Your demands will be taken very seriously, but I also know how much you love your country and your desire to build and elevate it."

Ongoing violence

Egypt has been in turmoil since longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak stepped down in 2011 amid mass protests against his rule.

Hundreds have been killed in clashes since the military ousted the country's first democratically elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, last July, with Amnesty International putting the death toll since then at more than 1,400.

Mehlib's cabinet includes the country's military chief, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who was also defense minister in the previous cabinet. He is widely expected to run for president in spring election, and opinion polls indicate that he would be the overwhelming favorite.

pfd/dr (AP, AFP)

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