CAIRO — Egypt's finance minister tendered his resignation Tuesday to protest the government's role in the most violent unrest since the winter uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, according to an aide. But his attempt to quit was quickly rejected by the country's transitional military leadership.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces refused late in the day to accept Hazem El-Beblawi's resignation, the ministry's spokesman, Mohammed al-Saqa, said. El-Beblawi had offered to step down after what human rights activists have described as a "massacre" of 26 people, mostly Coptic Christians, late Sunday during a crackdown by the military against rock-throwing protesters.
El-Beblawi, who is also deputy prime minister, could not be reached by phone Tuesday, but an official in his Egyptian Social Democratic Party said his move was intended as a protest.
On Sunday, the military apparently tried to break up a demonstration by a group of mostly Coptic Christians protesting the burning of a church in southern Egypt. When the unarmed demonstrators did not disperse and responded by throwing rocks, soldiers plowed their vehicles into the crowd, witnesses said, adding that after the demonstrators torched several vehicles, soldiers opened fire.
Human rights groups have called for an independent investigation into the incident as the military deals with the biggest blow to its reputation since assuming power Feb. 11.
El-Beblawi's party posted a statement on its Facebook page calling for the sacking of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's government and a criminal investigation of the military police chief and the interior minister in connection with the violence Sunday.