Statements conflict over fate of Egypt's Hisham Qandil govt

Ahram Online, Tuesday 12 Mar 2013

Ghad Al-Thawra Party head Ayman Nour says Qandil govt faces imminent dismissal, while cabinet spokesman says such a move isn't even being considered

Hesham Mohamed Qandil, Prime Minister of Egypt (Photo: AP)

Recent statements issued by the presidency, government and Ghad Al-Thawra Party head Ayman Nour have conflicted as to whether or not Egypt's current cabinet would be replaced – a longstanding opposition demand – in the short-term future.

Nour, who has recently played the role of mediator between the presidency and the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) umbrella group, said on Tuesday that he expected Egypt's current political impasse to be resolved "within days," going on to voice expectations that the current government of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil would be replaced imminently.

On Sunday, a presidential source was quoted as saying that President Mohamed Morsi "doesn't mind" the appointment of a new cabinet, as long as it "enjoyed consensus" and received guarantees from the opposition that Egypt's turbulent political situation would stabilise once new ministers were sworn into office.

However, cabinet spokesman Alaa El-Hadidi on Tuesday stated that the dismissal – or even reshuffle – of the Qandil government was "not on the table," asserting that the president was a "major supporter" of the current cabinet.

Egypt has suffered political deadlock since the second anniversary of the 25 January 2011 revolution, which was followed by a series of violent protests and clashes throughout the country.

The NSF, for its part, has vowed to boycott upcoming parliamentary polls – along with all talks with the presidency – until Morsi meets a raft of preconditions. These include the replacement of the government, the dismissal of the Morsi-appointed prosecutor-general, and the launch of credible investigations into recent political violence.

Demands for the dismissal of the current government have been supported by the Salafist Nour Party, Egypt's second largest Islamist party after the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

The FJP, meanwhile, from which President Morsi hails, continues to voice reluctance about replacing the cabinet before parliamentary elections are held.

A former irrigation minister, Qandil was the first prime minister to be appointed by President Morsi. While he is not formally affiliated to any political party, Qandil is said to have sympathies with the Muslim Brotherhood.

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