Who's who: Egypt's new ministers

Ahram Online, Tuesday 7 May 2013

Ahram Online profiles the nine men joining the cabinet after Tuesday's reshuffle, the majority of whom are Brotherhood members or supporters

Egypt's new cabinet (Photo: PM Hisham Qandil's official Facebook page)

The second cabinet reshuffle to take place under President Mohamed Morsi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil was finally announced on Tuesday after weeks of anticipation, following earlier statements by Morsi that a reshuffle would take place.

A total of nine ministries changed hands, including the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Antiquities, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Investment.

Despite the opposition’s frequently reiterated call for a more diverse cabinet, the reshuffle seems to solidify Brotherhood presence in the government, bringing in three members of the group to take over major portfolios.

Yehia Hamed, the new investment minister, is the spokesperson for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), while Amr Darrag, who takes over at the international cooperation and planning ministry, is a member of the Brotherhood’s political bureau and chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party’s Foreign Relations Committee. Ahmed El-Gizawi, the new minister of Agriculture is the head of the Agriculture Committee of the FJP.

In addition, the new Minister of Justice Ahmed Soliman and new Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel-Aziz are known for their stance against opponents of Morsi in recent months. Soliman is a defender of Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah, who has been frequently criticised and accused of bias in favour of the Brotherhood, while Abdel-Aziz has been outspoken against the opposition movement in general.

President Mohamed Morsi formed his first cabinet under Prime Minister Hisham Qandil in July 2012, almost three weeks after he became president. He carried out his first government reshuffle in January 2013, replacing ten ministers, with the new arrivals including two Brotherhood members.

In an interview with Al Jazeera channel on 20 April, Morsi said that a cabinet reshuffle could be expected “soon.”

The new changes are not expected to trigger positive feedback from the opposition. The National Salvation Front has frequently complained that the government is Brotherhood-dominated and put as a condition for its participation in the next parliamentary elections the formation of a new government to guarantee unbiased electoral supervision.

"This was not the reshuffle Egyptians had called for," spokesperson for the liberal Free Egyptians Party Shehab Wagih told Ahram’s Arabic website on Tuesday. 

The Brotherhood scientist: Ahmed Mahmoud Ali El-Gizawi, Minister of Agriculture

Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Agriculture Ahmed Mahmoud Ali El-Gizawi (Photo: Ahram)

El-Gizawy, 64, is the head of the Agriculture Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

Graduating in 1970 with a degree in agriculture, El-Gizawy moved up the academic ladder to eventually become a professor and dean of the Ain Sham University's Faculty of Agriculture.

The 64-year-old El-Gizawy is an accomplished academic, who won accolades including shields of of excellence from Egypt's Ain Shams University, Italy's University of Palermo and a German university. In 1988, his doctoral thesis on orchards was selected as the country's best doctoral thesis.

El-Giazwy has filed a patent on “utilising extracts of natural plants in fighting pests and plant diseases and improving growth qualities of fruits.”

Some academics and others involved in the agriculture field have criticised his appointment, as he is a Brotherhood supporter.

The academic: Ahmed Eissa, Minister of Antiquities 

Minister of Antiquities
Minister of Antiquities Ahmed Eissa (Photo: Ahram)

New Minister of Antiquities Ahmed Eissa was born in 1960 in Gerga city in Upper Egypt's Sohag Governorate.

Eissa graduated from Assiut University, also in Upper Egypt, in 1982 with a bachelor’s in Islamic antiquities. In 1989 he took a master’s degree from Cairo University, specialising in Coptic architecture, and later gained a doctoral degree from Assuit University, focusing on the Islamic effects on the architecture of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the governorates of Qena and Aswan from the Ottoman period up to the rule of Mohamed Ali’s dynasty.

His first job was an antiquities inspector in Islamic and Coptic antiquities at the Egyptian antiquities authority.

Eissa became a teaching assistant in 1993, then started as an instructor at South Valley University.

He became the dean of the antiquities faculty at South Valley University in 2011.

He is reportedly a member of the moderate Islamist Wasat party.

The pro-Brotherhood intellectual: Alaa Abdel-Aziz, Minister of Culture

Minister of Culture
Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel-Aziz (Photo: Ahram)

Born in 1962, the new Minister of Culture Alaa Abdel-Aziz is a professor of film editing at the Cairo Cinema Institute. Abdel-Aziz obtained a doctorate in postmodern philosophy and cinema in 2008 and is active within Egypt’s cultural scene.

He was an opponent of former president Hosni Mubarak's regime.

Abdel-Aziz also been very critical of the opposition to President Mohamed Morsi in his writings, published in the Freedom and Justice Party newspaper, deeming opposition “counter-revolutionary,” “fake,” and “media exaggerated.”

The Islamic finance expert: Fayad Abdel-Moneim, Minister of Finance

Minister of Finance
Minister of Finance Fayad Abdel-Moneim (Photo: Ahram)

Fayad Abdel-Moneim, 56, is Egypt's fifth finance minister since the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in January 2011.

He attained a doctorate in Islamic banking in 1999 and was an economy professor at Al-Azhar University before accepting the job of finance minister in President Morsi's government.

He has worked as an economic advisor to the Egyptian Centre for Islamic Jurisprudential and Economic Studies.

He has also been a financial consultant at Dar El-Ifta, the state body dealing with fatwas (religious edicts).

His academic qualifications in Islamic economy, business and finance are similar to those of his predecessor El-Morsi El-Sayed Hegazy.

A source at the finance ministry, who requested anonymity, told Ahram Online on Tuesday that ministry officials were still unaware of Abdel-Moneim's political views.

The senior FJP figure: Amr Darrag, Minister of International Cooperation and Planning

Minister of International Cooperation and Planning
Minister of International Cooperation and Planning Amr Darrag (Photo: Ahram)

Born in 1958, Ahmed Mohamed Amr Darrag, known as Amr Darrag, is a professor at Cairo University's College of Engineering, and a founding member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

In 2011, Darrag ran for parliament as an FJP member in Giza but lost to Amr El-Shobaki, a liberal political analyst at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

Last year, Darrag served as the secretary-general of Egypt's Constituent Assembly, which drafted and passed the country's controversial post-revolutionary constitution.

Darrag has also served as chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party’s Foreign Relations Committee and was its secretary-general in Giza.

In 1980 he obtained a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cairo University, from which he later received a master’s degree in soil mechanics and foundations in 1984, before going on to earn a doctorate in soil mechanics and foundations from Purdue University in 1987.  

As Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Darrag will take over the bulk of the responsibility in negotiating Egypt's $4.8 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which is expected to be sealed by the end of May, if both parties can agree on an economic reform programme designed to narrow Egypt's widening budget deficit. 

The FJP spokesman: Yehia Hamed, Minister of Investment 

 Minister of Investment
Minister of Investment Yehia Hamed (Photo: Ahram)

Yehia Hamed, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and spokesperson for its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), was appointed Egypt's new Minister of Investment on Tuesday.

He was appointed advisor to President Mohamed Morsi in 2012 and since then had avoided the spotlight. His tasks included mediating during large labour strikes.

Born in 1977, he is one of the youngest members of the current cabinet.

From 2004 to 2012, Hamed held several marketing and sales positions at Vodafone Egypt.

He graduated from the languages faculty at Ain Shams University in 1999. He also holds a master's degree in public administration from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

Hamed replaced Osama Saleh, a former head of Egypt's investment authority, whose term in office could be largely described as uneventful.

The investment ministry gained prominence under Mahmoud Mohieddin, who stepped down in 2010 after being appointed managing director of the World Bank.

The alternative judicial voice: Ahmed Soliman, Minister of Justice

Minister of Justice
Minister of Justice Ahmed Soliman (Photo: Ahram)

A prominent judge, Soliman has worked his way up through a variety of judicial positions.

Born in Minya in Upper Egypt, Soliman graduated from Cairo University's Faculty of Law in 1972. He served as assistant to the justice minister for judicial affairs, a post that allowed him to be a key player in the drafting of bills prepared by the ministry.

He was elected head of the Minya branch of judicial union the Judges Club for three terms: 2002, 2004 and from 2011 to the current day.

An outspoken figure under the Mubarak regime, Soliman strongly backed the 2005 judges' strike while working in the United Arab Emirates, by raising donations, and writing sympathetic articles in private newspapers.

Soliman has been one of the main backers of the Morsi-appointed public prosecutor Talaat Abdullah and has been known for being a strong opponent of Judges Club national head Ahmed El-Zend, who is a vociferous critic of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, Soliman did voice his opposition to Morsi's controversial constitutional declaration last November, as well the current disputed draft legislation on judicial authority.

The constitutional expert: Hatem Bagato, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Hatem Bagato (Photo: Ahram)

Hatem Bagato is the head of the advisory board of the High Constitutional Court (HCC). He was a judge on the court, but was removed from his post by the new constitution, which lowered the number of judges from 19 to 11, returning the oldest members to their previous posts. Bagato, along with other HCC members, was critical of the newly-passed constitution.

He was a member of the Supreme Electoral Commission under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which supervised the 2012 presidential elections in which Mohamed Morsi was elected.

Bagato was also a member of the SCAF-appointed committee which drafted the constitutional amendments put to referendum in 2011, setting out the path for Egypt’s post-revolution transition period.

Prior to the 2011 uprising, Bagato was a member of the electoral commission which supervised the 2005 presidential elections and in which former president Hosni Mubarak was re-elected with more than 85 percent of the vote.  

In the reshuffle, Bagato replaced Omar Salem, who had filed his resignation earlier in March complaining of health problems. Salem, a Cairo University professor, was also a parliamentary affairs minister in the government of Kamal El-Ganzouri in 2012. Media leaks following his resignation claimed he had left his position due to his critical stance against the new constitution.

The engineer: Sherif Hadarra, Minister of Petroleum 

Minister of Petroleum
Minister of Petroleum Sherif Hadarra (Photo: Ahram)

Sherif Hadarra was chairman of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) from January 2013, a key post in the sector which has supplied a number of former petroleum ministers.

Hadarra was born in 1953 and graduated from the mechanics department of the engineering faculty at Cairo University in 1976.

In the same year, he joined Sumed, an oil pipeline company, where he eventually reached the position of managing director of engineering technology. 

He is reportedly close to the Muslim Brotherhood. 

He was appointed vice president of the Egyptian-German Company for Pumps in 2008.

The main challenge facing Hadarra will be meeting the country's fuel needs amid a foreign currency shortage. Fuel shortages have caused popular anger and chaos at gas stations in recent months.

Another challenge will be the sector's debt to its foreign partners. Officials have refused to reveal the size of the debt. Some unofficial sources estimate it to be tens if not hundreds of billions of Egyptian pounds.

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