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Brotherhood's FJP to choose economic team in new Egypt cabinet: Party official

Economic ministers may not be FJP members but will be chosen by the Brotherhood, says FJP's Abdallah Shehata; unlikely Mubarak-era Minister Fayza Abul-Naga will be reappointed

Salma Hussein, Thursday 26 Jul 2012
Morsi and Kandil
Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, left, meets with the minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Hesham Kandil, at the presidential palace in Cairo (Photo: AP)
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The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) will select Egypt's economic posts in the new cabinet, a source inside the party told Ahram Online, Thursday.

Abdallah Shehata, an economist and a FJP member, said that the ministers of commerce and industry, finance and planning "will not necessarily be from the FJP but will be chosen by the party."

He also added that the Ministry of Investment is likely to be revived in the upcoming government.

This implies that Egypt's veteran Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Fayza Abul-Naga, who has held the same post for the past eleven years and is widely seen to be the military council's strong woman, will not be reappointed. Along with the ministers of defense and energy, Abul-Naga is among the only three in the incumbent cabinet to keep their positions after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

Shehata also affirmed that the newly-appointed Prime Minister Hisham Qandil was one of the candidates put forward by the FJP to President Mohamed Morsi.

Qandil, who was a relatively unknown figure before his appointment on Tuesday, does not officially belong to any Islamist party but has been an outspoken supporter of Morsi's presidential "Renaissance" program and is widely seen to be an ally of the Brotherhood.

The new premier held a senior position in the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources from 1995 to 2004 before joining the African Development Bank as chief water resources engineer. He then rose to the top seat in the ministry following last year's January uprising.

Qandil, a 50-year-old engineer, promised in his first press conference Tuesday that Egypt would have a "technocratic government" and the selection of ministers would be based on the nominees’ efficiency and competency, not on their political affiliation.

Many, however, doubt that ministry appointments could escape the domination of the Brotherhood and its political party.

On Tuesday, Medhat El-Hadad, head of the Brotherhood's administrative office in Alexandria, said that ten ministerial posts in the new cabinet have been set aside for FJP members.

In addition, among the nominees to the cabinet's economic posts are Brotherhood businessmen, a move reminiscent of the controversial Mubarak-era Ahmed Nazif cabinet, which was denounced as "the businessmen government" at one point. 

Qandil met eleven nominees on Wednesday for various ministerial portfolios and announced in a press conference Thursday that the final shortlist of candidates will be presented to the president on Friday.

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