Political infighting was threatening Egypt's transition plans Thursday after the army cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood leaders. The country has been in political turmoil since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from office last week following mass protests calling for him to step down.
Foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told reporters that Morsi is currently being held in a "safe place, for his safety."
"He is not charged with anything up till now," Abdelatty said.
Crackdown on Brotherhood
The military Wednesday ordered the arrest of the organization's supreme leader Mohammed Badie, along with other high ranking officials.
The Brotherhood leaders are accused of causing deadly violence outside the Republic Guard headquarters on Monday that killed 53 people, most of whom were Morsi supporters. A further 480 people were wounded in the clashes, according to the health ministry.
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said the group's leaders had not yet been arrested and that some were still attending protest vigils at Rabaa Adaqiya mosque, where thousands of people have been camped out the past two weeks.
The targeting of Brotherhood officials is likely to complicate attempts at coming to a political compromise, as Egypt attempts to move forward with plans to form a new constitution. Interim Prime Minister Hazem el Beblawi has said he would reach out to Islamists in forming his administration and has offered the Brotherhood ministerial posts.
The Brotherhood, meanwhile, has called for more protests on Friday, a week after 35 people were killed during clashes with opposition factions. The Tamarod campaign, which organized the mass protests calling for Morsi to leave, also invited its followers to rally Friday.
The US has so far refused to label Morsi's forced removal from office as a coup. Doing so would require the country to halt aid, including $1.3 billion (1 billion euros) earmarked for the army, that it gives to Egypt each year.
Anger with the US plays a major role in the country's protests. Morsi's opponents accuse him of being influenced by the President Barack Obama's administration, while his supporters accuse Washington of being behind his overthrow.
dr/jr (Reuters, AFP, AP)