Skepticism over new Egypt Cabinet reshuffle

Ayat El-Tawy, Sunday 6 Jan 2013

Observers fear key portfolios now in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, after 10 new ministers sworn in Sunday; critics question method of replacement

Prime minister Qandil with President Morsi at a meeting last summer (Photo: Reuters)

In a bid to tackle the country's faltering economy including a rising budget deficit and the recent downward plunge of the Egyptian pound against the dollar, Egypt's government has sworn in 10 ministers on Sunday in a partial Cabinet reshuffle.

Last week, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil told the press that the newly-appointed cabinet will be a "technocratic one" that will bring greater economic and political stability to the country's state of turmoil.

With some key portfolios now led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group President Mohamed Morsi hails from, the shake-up has been greeted with skepticism by observers who say the Brotherhood now has control over key state's institutions.

The sectors now in the hands of the Islamist organisation include transportation, local development and supply and interior trade.

Nader Bakkar, spokesman for the Salafist Nour Party, questioned, through his Twitter account, the "rationale behind reshuffling specific posts in the ministerial team and the standards upon which they were replaced."

Bakkar highlighted that to ensure an effective administrative it was imperative to have "transparency in choosing, a timeline for schemes and an evaluation mechanism for the ministerial team's performance."

In a statement issued Sunday, former parliament speaker and chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Saad El-Katatni, urged national forces and political groups to back the new cabinet putting aside any disagreement over its makeup.

"The current political situation along with the country's economic woes require collaboration from everyone."

El-Katatni also called upon the newly-appointed government to consult with Egypt's diverse political forces over pressing issues and to steer clear of its censured unilateral decisions.

Mohamed Adel, blogger and April 6 Youth Movement activist, bashed polices adopted by Qandil's cabinet, claiming they do not appease the revolutionaries' demand for social justice. He deplored El-Katatni's calls to back the government.

Adel went on to say that the formation of the newly-installed government lacked national consensus, claiming that up to seven ministries are now held by the Muslim Brotherhood's FJP.

"The new cabinet shake-up jettisoned the interior minister who was made a scapegoat for their recent practices of growing clampdowns on protestors," said Tarek El-Kholy, a member of the April 6 Democratic Front.

Egypt's newly appointed 10 ministers took their oath Sunday before President Mohamed Morsi, after which they met with the Egyptian leader.

The most high-profile departure was that of the ministers of interior, finance, supply and interior trade, communication and information technology, transportation, electricity and energy, local development, civil aviation, environmental affairs and the minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs.

Qandil's four-month old Cabinet was formed last August.

Late last month, Morsi commissioned Qandil to instigate the necessary ministerial changes after the government faced severe criticism for the deterioration of the political and economic situation in the country.

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