April 6 founder criticises cabinet picks; Islamists back PM

Hatem Maher, Friday 3 Aug 2012

Ahmed Maher questions Egyptian Prime minister's choices of certain ministers; liberal journalist Hamdi Qandil doubts revolutionary credentials of cabinet; moderate Islamist Wasat Party is happy with new team

Egypt's President Mohamed with new cabinet (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Ahmed Maher, co-founder of Egypt's influential April 6 Youth Movement, has said that newly-appointed Prime Minister Hisham Qandil "must explain" his choices after unveiling his 35-member cabinet on Thursday.

The new cabinet has been criticised by several liberal figures, even though it includes only three members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which is currently trying to quell popular fears that it seeks to monopolise Egypt's political arena.

In June, Mohamed Morsi – until recently the head of the FJP – was inaugurated as Egypt’s first post-Mubarak president. The April 6 Youth Movement endorsed Morsi and campaigned for him during the second round of the presidential elections.

Maher, who, according to reports, might be included in the president’s yet-to-be-announced advisory team, said that Morsi and Qandil had the right to name their preferred choices, but called for "greater transparency" as to the reasons for their appointment.

"We don’t want quotas for political factions in the government because this isn't logical," Maher said in a statement. "But we want to know the criteria by which new ministers were chosen."

Maher also voiced concern over the suitability – or lack thereof – of Egypt's new interior and local development ministers.

Ahmed Zaki Abdeen, former governor of Kafr Al-Sheikh, was appointed local development minister, while General Ahmed Gamal El-Din was appointed interior minister. The latter has served as assistant to outgoing interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim for the past eight months.

"How is that Abdeen, who failed as governor of Kafr Al-Sheikh, took over such a pivotal ministry?" Maher asked. "What were the criteria used for choosing the new interior minister? Will he be able to restore order and draw up a new security plan based on respect for human rights?"

Prime Minister Qandil had been scheduled to hold a news conference on Thursday, but abruptly cancelled it without providing a reason. A statement would soon be released instead, according to the president's office.

Prominent liberal journalist Hamdi Qandil, for his part, expressed no reservations about the relative abilities of new cabinet appointees, but asserted that they did not represent Egypt's January 25 Revolution due to the absence of young figures.

"There should be an apology to the young Egyptians who lit the fuse of the revolution," he declared on Twitter. "This isn't a revolutionary government."

The FJP, for its part, endorsed the new cabinet in a Thursday statement, saying it was ready to provide "any assistance" to the new government. Several Muslim Brotherhood figures have also expressed support for Qandil's ministerial choices.

The moderate-Islamist Wasat Party echoed the FJP's sentiments. "We support the new government," said party head Abul-Ela Madi, who is also a member of Egypt's Constituent Assembly, which has been tasked with drafting a new constitution.

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