Sources reveal deliberations over filling Egypt's prime minister post

Ahram Online , Sunday 7 Jul 2013

With Egypt in political limbo after president Morsi was deposed, 3 major names are floated for premiership, with ElBaradei favoured by Rebel campaign but resisted by Salafists

(Photo: Ahram) (L-R) Hisham Ramez, Mohamed ElBaradei, and Ahmed Darwish are three potential candidates for Egypt premiership

Leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei is still the first option to head Egypt’s new administration, informed sources tell Ahram Online, but two other names are being floated for the position.

"The compromise proposed by the 30 June groups is for ElBaradei to be appointed as the new prime minister and to have a Salafist figure, like Ashraf Thabet, Nour Party leading figure, as a deputy prime minister for national conciliation," the informed source from the National Salvation Front details to Ahram Online.

However, the conservative Nour party has been outright hostile against ElBaradei in the past and now resists the one-for-one compromise. The Nour Party is, instead, suggesting other names, including former minister of State for Administrative Development under Mubarak.

"[Ahmed] Darwish was Nour Party's first choice when they proposed its conciliation initiative to president Morsi before 30 June," a source in the Salafist party tells Ahram Online, referring to the multi-million person protests to unseat Morsi from presidency that had been announced for weeks.

Late on Saturday the interim president’s advisor for media affairs denied that ElBaradei, general coordinator of the National Salvation Front opposition coalition, had been assigned the post of prime minister.

Early on Sunday prominent writer Mohamed Hassanein Heikal met interim president Adly Mansour to discuss "the current political situation," according to Egypt’s presidency.

"Heikal advised the president appoint an economic figure to the post," a presidential source tells Ahram Online.

Egyptian Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez, assigned to his post earlier in the year by now-ousted president Mohamed Morsi, remains the highest contender for the job after ElBaradie. Ramez, a career banker with a solid reputation for "progressive" economic choices and with considerable inroads in the international financial and economic scene, is said to be favoured by General El-Sisi, head of the Armed Forces.

According to the sources who spoke to Ahram Online, General El-Sisi is keen to have the man entrusted and appointed by Morsi to send a message of inclusion to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, who has reacted with ire to the ouster of their presidential candidate.

Ramez, according to official and independent economic sources, is also the contender with the widest recommendations from within the business community. His choice as premier is also perceived by the advisors to Interim President Adly Mansour, as well as those to El-Sisi, as sending "a strong message of stable investment policies" — something said to be "particularly crucial at the moment where Egypt is keen to attract as much investment as possible."

Yet sources close to Ramez tell Ahram Online that the liberal banker is "cautious about accepting the position in a time that needs a politician capable of dealing with the instability on the streets."

Rebel (Tamarod) campaign condemned on Sunday the presidency's about-face in naming ElBaradei for the post, voicing rejection to any alternative candidate.

Rebel spokesman Mahmoud Badr said the presidency should have consulted the campaign before backtracking on ElBaradei's appointment.

Badr went so far as to say the campaign "would not recognise" or "deal with" any premier other than the social democrat politician, ElBaradei.

Brotherhood-fielded Mohamed Morsi was deposed by the military after roughly 20 million people took to the streets to demand he resign on 30 June. Millions of Islamists came out to the streets to keep Morsi in his post. Under these circumstances, the army issued a 48-hour ultimatum for both sides to come to a resolution or they would take over the political roadmap. Neither were the pro-Morsi numbers large enough to overcome opposition, and nor was the Brotherhood able to come to a compromise with opposition before the deadline. On Wednesday, Morsi was deposed and Judge Adly Mahmoud Mansour was appointed interim president, leaving a constitution and government needing to be formed.

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