Proposed ministers reflect ‘continuity’
BY SARAH EL SIRGANY
Cairo: The preliminary list of new cabinet of ministers show continuity more than reform and is disappointing, observers said.
“The government reflects more continuity, rather than change,” said Omar Ashour, director of the Middle East Studies at Exeter University.
At least four ministers from the previous cabinet will remain under the leadership of the recently appointed premier Hesham Qandil, according to a list published by the official news agency MENA.
These include Momtaz El-Saeid in finance and Mohamed Kamel Amr, minister of foreign affairs. These top or “sovereign” ministries were expected to be issues of contention between the newly elected president Mohamed Morsi and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The ministers of justice and information are yet to be named. They too fall under the category of top portfolios. The ministry of defense is expected to stay as is under the leadership of Hussein Tantawi, head of SCAF.
Seeing the pattern in names and that some weren’t Morsi’s first choice, Ashour argued that SCAF had the upper hand in the final selection.
The ministry of interior, also among the top portfolios, will welcome a new minister, but not necessarily a new strategy. Major General Ahmed Gamal El-Din is a “hardliner”, a characteristic that was evident during the negotiations between civil forces and the interior ministry during the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes last November, according to Ashour, an expert in security sector reform.
The ministry underwent a series of changes and transfers this week, days before the new cabinet was announced. Like the cabinet, the ministry’s changes reflected continuity. The key, controversial figures were left to stay, Ashour said.
Aside from the top portfolios, the rest of the names weren’t as promising. “It’s disappointing… it’s a cause for concern,” activist Wael Khalil said.
The cabinet announcement is reminiscent of Hosni Mubarak’s governments and has no revolutionary faces in it, he said.
Khalil is part of the National Front for Change, a group of politicians, journalists and activists that supported Morsi prior to the runoff results in June. The group expressed its disappointment with the cabinet selection process earlier this week, saying it lacked transparency and was characterized by hesitation, according to Khalil.
“It’s not about deviating from our agreement with Morsi, but because this is not what was required of him [as Egypt’s first elected president],” he explained.
The criticism started with Morsi’s selection of Qandil as prime minister. Egypt’s Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression condemned the lack of transparency and information about the selection criteria in a statement last Thursday.
The new cabinet also lacks diversity, in terms of political and religious affiliations and gender.
According to Khalil, the only Copt so far is Nadia Zakhary, who also led the scientific research ministry under outgoing premier Kamal Al-Ganzoury. She also ticks the female representation box, along with social affairs minister Nagwa Khalil, again from Al-Ganzoury’s cabinet.
Preliminary list of new ministers:
Ahmed Gamal Eddin – Interior
Mahmoud Reda – Electricity
Mohamed Kamel Amro – Foreign Affairs
Momtaz El-Saeid – Finance
Osama Saleh – Investment
Osama Kamal – Petroleum
Hany Mahmoud – Telecom
Hesham Za’Zou’ – Tourism
Tarek Wafiq – Housing
Mohamed Rashad – Transport
Alaa Abdel-Sadeq – Sports
Osama Yasin – Youth
Mostafa Mosaad – Higher Education
Abdel-Qawy Khalifa – Water and Sewage Facilities
Osama El-Abd- Religious Endowment
Mohamed Bahaa Eddin – Irrigation
Khaled Abdel-Aziz – Environment
Mohamed Ibrahim – Antiquities
Nagwa Khalil – Social Affairs
Ahmed Zaki Abdein – Local Development
Abu Zeid Mohamed Abu Zeid – Supply
Mohamed Mahsoob – Legal and Parliamentary Councils Affairs