In a wide-ranging interview, Essam el-Erian, a senior leader of the political party founded by the group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said the party had decided to support keeping the caretaker prime minister and cabinet appointed by the ruling military council in office for the next six months.
Mr. Erian and other party leaders had previously suggested that they might act to have the Parliament challenge the council over control of the posts, perhaps as soon as later this month at the legislative body’s first meeting. But on Sunday, Mr. Erian said the party intended to let the caretakers stay on until the military’s preferred date for a handover of power, after the new Constitution is approved and a president is elected in June.
To many Egyptians, the conciliatory tone evokes a frequent criticism that the Muslim Brotherhood has often been too willing to accommodate those in power. Many still talk about how it initially collaborated with the military-led government after Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1952 coup — until Colonel Nasser turned on the Brotherhood and ordered a crackdown that jailed or executed many of its leaders.
Mr. Erian made it clear in the interview, though, that the Muslim Brotherhood does not expect the military rulers to relinquish all power on their own. The party’s first step in ultimately removing them, he said, would be to defend the authority of the Parliament to choose, on its own, the members of a planned 100-person constitutional assembly.
“Of course, the military wants to delay or disturb the composition of the assembly,” Mr. Erian said. But although the military has sought permanent powers and autonomy, Mr. Erian said, the public is against its continued rule in any form. “No people can support this now,” he said.
Still, Mr. Erian said, governing Egypt for the time being would require “cooperation” between the military council, the caretaker government and the Parliament. Once a new president is elected and a new constitution is ratified, he said, “within three months we can have the military back in their camps safely.”
He spoke as preliminary results of the third and final round of parliamentary voting confirmed the Brotherhood’s commanding lead. It captured nearly 40 percent of the votes cast for party lists of candidates, and some analysts said that once all runoffs between individual candidates are decided, the Brotherhood could reach an outright majority of seats, though that appeared to be a long shot.
Sitting in a parlor in the rundown headquarters of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, Mr. Erian expressed satisfaction that, after decades of mutual distrust, Washington appeared willing to accept a Brotherhood-led government in Egypt.
Recently, he has met with American officials like Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, and he is soon to meet with Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns. Mr. Erian brushed aside recent reports by some Arab news outlets that the Brotherhood planned to reject American aid to Egypt, including the military aid of about $1.3 billion a year that Egypt has received since it signed the Camp David accord with Israel in 1978.
“If the Americans are ready to support a democratic government in Egypt, this means a lot,” Mr. Erian said, adding that he hoped the United States would “continue the aid, but without political pressure.”
The Brotherhood, he said, would honor the Camp David accord. “This is a commitment of the state, not a group or a party, and this we respect,” he said.
But Mr. Erian also said that it was now time for Israel to understand the implications of the democratic openings of the Arab Spring — “the biggest change in the Arab world’s history” — which have given new voice to Arab anger at Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
And he reminded his American visitors that they were not the only ones to come calling. “Everyone wants to see us,” he said. “The Chinese were here, the Russians were here.”
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