LONDON: Egypt faces renewed political tension after three opposition figures, including a former head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, were placed under investigation for allegedly plotting to topple the President, Mohammed Mursi.
A judge will investigate Mohammed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as the former foreign minister and Arab League chairman Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate, over accusations that they campaigned to unseat Dr Mursi during the latest unrest.
The announcement by the chief prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah, who was appointed by Dr Mursi last month, will heighten concerns the President and his Muslim Brotherhood backers intend to scapegoat opponents.
Earlier this week a new constitution - denounced by the secularist opposition as a route to Islamic law and discriminatory against minorities and women - was officially declared to have been approved in a referendum.
A lawyer filed the complaint that prompted the investigation after a wave of protest last month when Dr Mursi adopted sweeping powers - later revoked - that put him beyond legal challenge.
While not necessarily leading to criminal charges, the investigation of Dr ElBaradei will raise concerns Egypt is lurching towards authoritarianism. Emad Abu Ghazi, the secretary-general of the opposition Dostour Party headed by Dr ElBaradei, said the action showed ''a tendency towards a police state and the attempt to eliminate political opponents''.
Opposition to Dr Mursi seems to have reached the ranks of his own government. The legal and parliamentary affairs minister resigned the day after the President vowed to reshuffle the government to tackle the economy.
Mohammed Mahsoub said he was stepping down because ''many policies and efforts contradict my personal convictions''.
Egypt's official news agency Mena reported that the ousted president Hosni Mubarak has a build-up of fluid in his lungs and cracked ribs. He has been transferred from prison to a military hospital for treatment.
Telegraph, London; AFP