Prime Minister Hisham Qandil (Photo:Reuters)
The Egyptian presidency confirmed that Prime Minister Hisham Qandil will remain in his post, despite an expected government reshuffle.
A presidential spokesman on Wednsday also reiterated the president's "respect" for the judiciary amid an ongoing crisis in relations between president and judges.
Last Saturday, President Mohamed Morsi stated in an interview with Al Jazeera that Egypt's cabinet would be reshuffled "soon," although he declined to specify which ministers would be replaced.
Replacement of the current cabinet, including Qandil, with a government of “national unity” has been a longstanding demand of Egypt's political opposition, who accuse the Morsi-appointed government of being beholden to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which the president hails.
Presidential spokesman Ehab Fahmy, who gave a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, also announced that the ministerial reshuffle will be a "limited" one, adding that the presidency will communicate with opposition parties for suggestions on new ministers and governors, so that "the best nominations will be selected."
The spokesman went on to assert that it is possible that a deputy prime minister will be appointed. However, he denied rumours that Morsi's advisors Pakinam El-Sharkawi and Essam El-Haddad are being touted for the position.
Presidency 'respects' judiciary
Amid the latest developments in the crisis between the government and the judiciary, the presidency asserted that the president is keeping up with the issue.
"The president is keen on containing the crisis stoked by the draft law proposed by the [moderate Islamist] Wasat Party. The president sat down with the judges on Monday and listened to their qualms," Fahmy said.
The president has clearly said that he will not allow any encroachment on judicial independence and has reiterated his respect for the judiciary, Fahmy said, adding that there will be an extended meeting with the judges "as soon as possible."
A long drawn out struggle between the government and the judiciary was recently stoked when Egypt's upper house of parliament discussed a new judicial authority law – proposed by the Wasat Party and endorsed by the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and its allies - which would retire and replace over 3,000 judges.
The height of the crisis came in November where Morsi issued a controversial presidential decree in which he removed prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, who was appointed during the Mubarak era, replacing him with judge Talaat Abdullah without referring him to the Supreme Judicial Council, which is the body formally tasked with appointing the top prosecutor.
The bill was described by judges and members of opposition groups as an attempt to carry out a "judges' massacre" and pump Brotherhood loyalists into Egypt's judiciary.
Fahmy, however, did not provide details on the possibility of withdrawing the judiciary draft law.
The press conference also stated that the resignation of presidential advisor for legal affairs, Mohamed Fouad Gadallah, was accepted.
Islamist-leaning Gadallah submitted his resignation to President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday, making him the twelfth advisor to resign out of an original 17.
The text of Gadallah's resignation letter included seven reasons for his decision, many of which echo the demands of Egypt's political opposition. However, he cited the main reason was the presidency's failure to resolve the ongoing impasse with Egypt's judiciary.
Gadallah, who is also deputy head of Egypt's State Council, took the decision to resign amid the crisis involving the judicial authority law.