Long-awaited reshuffle

Gamal Essam El-Din , Thursday 6 Jun 2024

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi reappointed Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli and tasked him with forming a new government amid economic and regional challenges.

Long-awaited reshuffle


On Monday, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi asked Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli to form a new government. Earlier, Madbouli had submitted the government’s resignation after nearly six years in office.

“I have assigned Dr Mustafa Madbouli to form a new government that includes the expertise and competencies necessary to manage the coming phase and achieve the desired development in government performance and tackle the challenges facing the state,” Al-Sisi said in a statement.

MP and TV presenter Mustafa Bakri said once the new government is formed the House of Representatives will be invited to hold an urgent session to review the new cabinet lineup. Article 146 of the constitution stipulates that the new government present a policy statement to the House of Representatives within 20 days which MPs discuss before preparing a report to be published ten days after the statement has been delivered. The new government is then subject to a vote of confidence. Once endorsed by the House, cabinet ministers take the constitutional oath before the president. Serving ministers will continue in office until a new government is formed.

“The government’s resignation on Monday was much anticipated and came after Al-Sisi had been sworn in as president for a third six-year term,” said Bakri.

MP Atef Al-Meghawri, head of the Tagammu Party’s parliamentary group, said many had expected a new government to be formed immediately after President Al-Sisi was sworn in as president in April.

“The move on Monday was long-awaited and widely expected. What was not expected was that Mustafa Madbouli would be tasked with forming a new government.”

With all respect and appreciation for Madbouli, Al-Meghawri said he had hoped that there would be a new prime minister.

The announcement of the cabinet reshuffle on Monday came two days after the government raised the price of subsidised bread from five piastres to 20 piastres per loaf, a move that sparked controversy. On Sunday, during discussions of the 24/25 budget, opposition MPs had teamed up to criticise the government for its announcement that the prices of bread, electricity, fuel and pharmaceuticals would all increase. MP Abdel-Moneim Imam, head of the opposition Adl (Justice) party, and leftist MP Diaaeddin Dawoud, argued the resignation of the Madbouli cabinet was necessary to contain public anger.

Cairo secured more than $50 billion in funds after finalising deals with foreign partners in March, including an $8 billion deal from the IMF conditional on a raft of reforms including reduced subsidies, a flexible exchange rate, tighter monetary policy and a greater role for the private sector.

When Madbouli submitted his government’s resignation, Al-Sisi asked the future cabinet to do its best to bring inflation under control and exercise strict control of retail markets.

“It’s yet to be seen how the new government will be able to achieve these things when it is intending to raise the prices of essential goods and services,” said Al-Meghawri.

MPs affiliated with Mostaqbal Watan and Homat Watan, the two largest parliamentary parties, supported Madbouli’s reappointment. Arguing it will help maintain stability.

“Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli led a government which made a number of bold economic reforms and it is important that he remain in office to complete these reforms with a new team of cabinet ministers,” said Tarek Radwan, a leading member of Mostaqbal Watan and head of the Human Rights Committee.

A statement issued by Homat Watan on Monday said Prime Minister Madbouli and his government’s economic team had done a good job softening the economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

Radwan argues that Madbouli should choose “new ministers with new and fresh ideas” capable of curbing inflation and generating higher economic growth rates.

Al-Sisi asked Madbouli’s future cabinet to focus on economic reform, private sector growth and attracting local and foreign investments and to prioritise human development with a focus on education, health and political participation.

To achieve these targets, Radwan believes the cabinet should implement the package of economic and political reforms passed by the National Dialogue, including “changing laws on local councils, parliamentary elections, political parties and human rights to create greater political openness”.

General Coordinator of the National Dialogue Diaa Rashwan said on Saturday that dialogue sessions will resume within days.

President Al-Sisi also asked the new government to reinforce security and stability, continue the fight against terrorism and support the reform of religious discourse.

Radwan says the ongoing Israel war on Gaza and the threat of Palestinians being displaced into Sinai have been taking a toll on Egypt and that “under the new government, Cairo will continue to play a key role in mediating peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians”.

There is no immediate indication who will be leaving or joining the new cabinet. Bakri predicts many new faces while senator and Chief Editor Al-Shorouk newspaper Emadeddin Hussein expects at least 12 of the cabinet’s 32 ministers to change, including the ministers of supply, industry, education, higher education, tourism, culture, environment and electricity. Hussein also anticipates that the minister of finance, planning and international cooperation will retain their positions.

Under article 146 of the constitution, the president in consultation with the prime minister is responsible for naming the ministers of defence, interior, foreign affairs and justice.

Madbouli’s cabinet has been reshuffled four times since he first formed a government in 2018.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 6 June, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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