In his first press conference as prime minister, Kamal El-Ganzouri said that he needed “some time” to form a new government to replace that of outgoing PM Essam Sharaf.
The 78-year-old El-Ganzouri, who was officially appointed Egypt’s new premier on Friday, stressed that members of his new Cabinet would not be announced before the kick-off of parliamentary polls slated for Monday.
“I asked for some time to name the ministers of the new government, which will certainly not be formed before the elections,” he told reporters. “But it will not take long.”
On his decision to take on the premiership, El-Ganzouri said: “It’s an exhausting responsibility, but I’ve accepted it in order to serve my country.”
“Field-Marshal [and de facto president Hussein] Tantawi isn’t planning to stay [in power] at all, and that’s why I accepted the mission,” El-Ganzouri added. “I wouldn’t have accepted if he had intended to [remain in power].”
When asked about possible candidates for the new Cabinet, El-Ganzouri replied: “I don’t know most of the ministers in the Sharaf government. Those from political coalitions, movements and parties are welcome and will be seriously considered.”
“I will have full powers to form the government – that I promise you,” he added, dismissing the notion that Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) would be the real decision maker behind him and his government.
El-Ganzouri’s appointment, however, has been largely rejected by post-revolutionary forces from across the political spectrum.
Critics say the 78-year-old El-Ganzouri, who previously served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, is too old for the job. Others reject his appointment due to his closeness to the former regime.
Some anti-SCAF activists, meanwhile, insist that the person of the prime minister is insignificant as long as the military council remains in power.
As of press time, some 2000 protesters had converged on the Cabinet building near Cairo’s Tahrir Square to denounce El-Ganzouri’s appointment and prevent him from entering the premises.
The Sharaf government, meanwhile, is expected to remain in office until El-Ganzouri’s new Cabinet is appointed.