Screen shot of Egypt President Mohamed Morsi while delivering his speech
Egypt President Mohamed Morsi revealed on Wednesday he is in talks with Prime Minister Hisham Qandil over possible changes to the cabinet, refuting claims that a new premier would be installed in the near future.
After the incumbent government faced fierce criticisms of late over chronic economic woes and political turmoil, it was rumored that Qandil would be relieved of his duties as Morsi would opt to appoint a new prime minister.
Also rife were unsubstantiated allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood's second-man, Khairat El-Shater, would succeed Qandil. Morsi, however, implicitly played down the rumor by unveiling his talks with Qandil, which mean that latter is staying put.
"I commissioned Hisham Qandil to make the necessary ministerial changes," said Morsi during a televised recorded speech on national TV, after congratulating Egyptians on the ratification of the new constitution.
The contentious constitution was approved by Morsi late on Tuesday. The Supreme Electoral Commission announced that nearly 64 per cent of voter turnout in the recent constitutional referendum had endorsed the national charter.
"Egypt has a new constitution … It came through the free will of the people," Morsi said while holding aloft a copy of the charter.
Opposition groups have argued that the constitution lacks national consensus, describing it as "unrepresentative."
The Islamist-led Constituent Assembly, which was tasked with drafting the constitution, saw walkouts by church representatives, liberals, leftists and others in protest at the Islamist members' demeanor, saying they had been trying to deter many freedoms, among other complaints.
Early this month, Morsi invited the opposition, led by the National Salvation Front (NSF), to a dialogue in order to reach national consensus before the constitutional referendum.
The NSF and other opposition groups, however, turned him down, arguing that such a meeting would be "pointless."
During his speech, Morsi once again invited the opposition to a dialogue in order to reach an agreement over the contentious articles of the constitution.
"I hereby renew my invitation to all parties and political forces to participate in the sessions of the national dialogue that I oversee," he said.
Morsi came under fire the past couple of months not only because of the draft constitution, but also because of issuing a temporary, yet controversial, constitutional declaration that gave him absolute power and placed his actions beyond judicial review.
In what seemed to be an attempt to prove his good intentions, Morsi recited the constitutional oath by the end of the speech, vowing to "respect the law and constitution."