Egypt PM rolls back Muslim Brotherhood ban

Hazem el-Beblawi's reversal hints to possible political settlement with Islamist group

Hazem el-Beblawi, Egypt's interim prime minister, pulled back on previous calls to ban the Muslim Brotherhood.
Jumana El-Heloueh/Reuters/Landov

Hazem el-Beblawi, Egypt's interim prime minister, said Tuesday that his government should not ban the Muslim Brotherhood or exclude it from the political process, reversing his position on the Islamist group he sought to dissolve earlier this month.

The announcement added to speculation that the government was preparing for a settlement to the political crisis that had gripped the country since the military, supported by mass demonstrations, deposed President Mohamed Morsi, a longtime loyalist of the group, on July 3.

"Dissolving the party or the group is not the solution, and it is wrong to make decisions in turbulent situations," the state news agency MENA quoted Beblawi as saying.

"It is better for us to monitor parties and groups in the framework of political action without dissolving them or having them act in secret," he added.

Beblawi said the actions of the group's members would determine its fate.

On Aug. 17, during the height of Egypt's political turmoil, Beblawi asked the minister of social affairs, who is responsible for licensing non-governmental organizations, to look into the possibility of dissolving the group.

"There will be no reconciliation with those whose hands have been stained with blood and who turned weapons against the state and its institutions," Beblawi told reporters at the time.

More than 1,000 people, including about 100 soldiers and police, have died in violence across Egypt since Morsi's overthrow, making it the bloodiest civil unrest in the republic's 60-year history. Brotherhood supporters say the toll is much higher.

Brotherhood leaders, who accuse the military of deliberately sabotaging Morsi's presidency and staging a coup, have urged followers to remain in the streets of Cairo until Morsi is reinstated.

However, mass arrests of its leadership -- including top leader Mohamed Badie -- have severely hampered the group's ability to mobilize rallies.

In fact, Beblawi's statement came as security forces arrested 60 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with relatives of top leaders, on charges that the group was involved in political violence.

Among those detained was 25-year-old U.S. citizen Mohamed Soltan, the son of outspoken Brotherhood figure Salah Soltan, family and security officials said.

The Brotherhood announced on Tuesday that it was planning new demonstrations to defy the military's crippling security crackdown.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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