CAIRO — As the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies vowed to broaden their protests against the president’s ouster and their opponents held enormous counterdemonstrations, U.S. diplomats sought to persuade the Islamist group to accept his overthrow, its officials said.
Continuing a push for accommodation that began before the removal of President Mohammed Morsi last week, the U.S. diplomats contacted Brotherhood leaders to try to persuade them to re-enter the political process, an Islamist briefed on one of the conversations said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
“They are asking us to legitimize the coup,” the Islamist said, arguing that accepting the removal of an elected president would be the death of Egyptian democracy. The United States Embassy in Cairo declined to comment.
Even as both sides continued their street demonstrations on Sunday, Egypt’s new leaders continued their effort to form an interim government.
State news media quoted a spokesman for Adly Mansour, the interim president, on Sunday as saying there was a “tendency” to name Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Prize-winning diplomat, as vice president, and a former chair of Egypt’s investment authority, Ziad Bahaa el-Din, as interim prime minister.
On Saturday, state news media said that ElBaradei had been chosen as prime minister, but the presidency later backed away from the report after ultraconservatives known as Salafis, who fault ElBaradei for being too secular, apparently rejected the appointment. The lack of agreement means that Egypt has been without a fully functioning government since Wednesday, when the defense minister, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sissi, announced that Morsi had been deposed.
Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the long-outlawed Islamist group that nominated Morsi for president, have sought to convince the world that his removal was both illegal and untenable. They now say they intend to escalate their demonstrations across Egypt.
“I think the military has to yield; they won’t have any choice,” said Gehad el-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman.
“We are stepping it up every few days, with protests around the country,” Haddad said. “We are logistically capable of carrying this on for months.”
He said that the protests themselves would turn into gathering places for the observation of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when it begins this week.