New "transitional" cabinet to include opposition figures

Ahram Online, Monday 21 Feb 2011

New "transitional" cabinet to include opposition figures
New faces of the cabinet. From left to right Gouda Abdel Khaleq , Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour , Abdel Moneim El-Sawy, Yehia El-Gammal.

A new cabinet  is expected to be announced soon, including figures of the opposition or others that were "blacklisted" by the Mubarak regime. Based on previous pronouncements made by the military, the new cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, should continue for an interim period of six months.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had said that the army will fill the power vacuum created by the ouster former president Hosni Mubarak for six months until parliamentary and presidential elections take place.

Sources had earlier suggested that four of the most reviled ministers, who had been leading members of the former ruling NDP, are to be dismissed from the cabinet. They are Minister of Justice Mamdouh Marei, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mufid Shehab, Minister of Manpower Aisha Abdel-Hady and Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi.

Representatives of the protesters who met with the council had demanded that Shafiq’s government should be dismissed as a whole, and an interim government of respected technocrats be appointed in its place. 

The council, for its part, promised changes in the government and that opposition figures would be included. Tahrir activists believe that Shafiq and other cabinet ministers are tainted by their closeness to the Mubarak regime.

The tourism, information, culture and education portfolios remain vacant.

Speculation surrounds many figures with only three appointments as yet confirmed. Wafd Secretary General Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour joins the cabinet as minister of tourism while Constitutional Law professor Yehia El-Gammal has confirmed his acceptance of the newly created post of deputy prime minister.

El-Gammal was a leading member in Mohamed ElBaradei's coalition of opposition groups called the National Association for Change. Prominent economics professor from the opposition Tagammu party Gouda Abdel Khaleq is the new minister of social solidarity and social justice.

Other reports circulating include Amr Ezzat Salama’s appointment to the ministry of higher education and scientific research and Ahmed Gamal Eddin as minister of education.

Gamal Eddin and Salama were both ministers of the same portfolios in 2004 before Gamal Eddin was reportedly dismissed for being is related to Muslim Brotherhood members and Salama paid the price for not being in former prime minister Ahmed Nazif’s good books.

Other reported nominations include that of Georgette Quellini to the ministry of immigration, Abdel Moneim El-Sawy, who runs a popular cultural centre in Cairo, to the ministry of culture, Maged Othman to the ministry of communications, Ahmed Abdel Fatah to the ministry of petroleum, Hany Saree El-Din as minister of trade and investment and the political analyst Amr Hamzawy, to the ministry of youth.

In the midst of these new names, El-Gammal stated on a satellite TV channel that the ministries of justice, foreign affairs and interior will remain unchanged while the ministry of information will be abolished.

Shafiq had formed his government on 29 January, before the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak. After more than three weeks of street protests and political instability, Shafiq announced that instilling order was the priority.

The new cabinet is expected to focus on repairing the economy, securing sufficient supplies of basic commodities and running the key state facilities.

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