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Islamists put pressure on Egypt rulers

CAIRO - The Muslim Brotherhood-led Parliament of Egypt began drawing up a no-confidence motion against the military-appointed government Thursday, further escalating the Islamists’ increasingly public power struggle with the country’s ruling generals.

The Islamists were also squabbling with liberal and secular groups about the commission that is to draw up the nation’s new constitution. After the Muslim Brotherhood took a majority on the 100-member body for itself, 25 other members resigned. The latest to exit was the representative of Al-Azhar, the preeminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world.

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On Thursday, a meeting between Islamists and liberals that was chaired by military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi yielded no compromises.

Liberals fear the Islamists plan to impose their religious agenda on the constitution. Islamists say liberals are a minority with no popular support.

Relations between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood have deteriorated in recent weeks, as the fundamentalist group pushed for the army to fire the Cabinet for alleged incompetence. The Muslim Brotherhood wants to form a new government, a task it insists is urgent because of Egypt’s deteriorating security and economic situation.

During a heated session of Parliament Thursday, lawmakers lambasted Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri’s government for its performance, accusing it of wasting billions of dollars of public funds. Six Cabinet ministers stormed out in protest.

Lawmakers also began drafting a motion for a vote of no confidence in the government, said parliamentarian Hussein Ibrahim. He said that Parliament, where the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists hold nearly 75 percent of the seats, will vote on the measure within two weeks.

“No one can give a kiss of life to a dead government,’’ lawmaker Osama Yassin said.

While Egypt’s interim constitution does not give Parliament the power to dismiss the Cabinet, a no-confidence vote would be a sharp blow to the ruling generals and make it difficult for them to continue backing el-Ganzouri’s government.

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