Army-backed ministers survive reshuffle despite objections

Hatem Maher , Monday 7 Mar 2011

Ministers Maged George and Sayed Meshaal, members of the ailing National Democratic Party, have survived the latest cabinet reshuffle unscathed

Two army-backed ministers have managed to retain their positions despite widespread demands for their departure.

Maged George, ministry of state for environmental affairs, and Sayed Meshaal, minister of military production, stayed put in the new cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, who vowed in a remarkable speech in Tahrir Square to meet the aspirations of protesters.

Sharaf's appointment was applauded by a large section of the demonstrators, but a ripple of protest erupted after he ignored calls to sack all so-called pro-Mubarak ministers, who served under the former president until he stepped down following a popular 18-day revolt.

Some old guards, such as former Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit and former Justice Minister Mamdouh Marie, were shown the door, but the decision to keep George and Meshaal drew questions on the official Facebook page of the Egyptian cabinet.

"Give me one valid reason why Meshaal and George remained in the cabinet?" asked one user while another said: "We thought that Mr Sharaf would definitely get rid of all the Mubarak associates."

Many Facebook users also posted the cabinet's email and called on people to send in their complaints over Sharaf's decision. While many of the pleas of protesters were accepted by the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces during the past few weeks, the people's latest demands may fall on deaf ears.

George, who was born in 1949, graduated from the Military Academy in 1972 and took part in the 6th of October war against Israel one year later. He was chief of staff at the Military Works Department and also worked as a military attaché in Italy. He was chairman of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority before being named as state minister for environmental affairs in 2004 under then Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.

George has been constantly criticised for failing to deal with a critical levels of pollution in Cairo.

Meshaal, born in 1942, received a bachelor of science in chemistry from Cairo University. He has been minister of military production since 1999, but it was the seat he occupied in the parliament which stirred controversy. He has been accused of forging votes to beat off competition in Helwan governorate in last year's disputed elections.

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