Cairo: Egypt’s new Prime Minister Ebrahim Mehleb on Sunday vowed to continue “fighting against terrorism”, saying that Egypt’s “battle against terrorism” is in the interest of the Arab world.
“Egypt is waging a battle against terrorism in the interest of the entire Arab region,” Mehleb said in a televised address, a day after his government was sworn in.
Egypt’s military-backed authorities have pursued a relentless crackdown on backers of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi, who was deposed by the army in July last year following massive protests against his troubled one-year rule. Hundreds have since been killed and thousands of others rounded up in what Egypt has repeatedly portrayed as a war against terrorism.
In December, the government branded Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, accusing it of masterminding a series of deadly attacks in the country. The group has repeatedly denied links to violence.
“I pledge to impose security, combat terrorism, while preserving human rights,” said Mehleb, who was a housing minister in the outgoing government.
Local and foreign rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of rights violations, random detentions and suppression of freedom of expression.
Mehleb also promised to introduce unspecified “urgent solutions” to provide everyday essentials for Egyptians, who have been suffering due to the stalled economy. He appealed for an end to labour unrest, seen as a key reason for the resignation of his predecessor Hazem Al Beblawi.
“The Government calls on all the people to devote themselves to building...It is high time for work and production. Now no voice should be raised over building.”
Opponents have criticised Mehleb for forming a government that included 20 members from the previous cabinet.
Among those retained in the new government is powerful Defence Minister Abdul Fatah Al Sissi, tipped to be the lead contender in this spring’s presidential polls.
The new 31-strong government is Egypt’s second since Mursi’s removal.