Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi on Thursday swore in a new government headed by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, with the 35-member cabinet largely made up of technocrats and some figures from the previous military-appointed cabinet.
Notably, only four members of President Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood were given ministerial posts in the new government. The ministries allotted to them were higher education, housing, youth and information.
While Osama al-Abd, the president of al-Azhar University, was made the Minister of religious endowments (Awqaf), former prime minister Kamal Ganzouri was made a presidential adviser. The new cabinet also includes two women, one of whom is a Christian.
The seven ministers from the previous military-appointed cabinet who retained their positions in the new government headed by Prime Minister Qandil are finance minister Mumtaz al-Said and foreign minister Mohammed Kamal Am.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which ruled Egypt after Hosni Mubarak stepped down, was retained as the defense minister in line with an interim constitutional declaration issued after the presidential election run-off held in June.
Speaking at a news conference in Cairo ahead of the inauguration ceremony, Qandil had appealed to all Egyptians to back his new government irrespective of their religious backgrounds.
"I call on all Egyptians to rally behind our elected president and to work with the government to achieve all of our goals. We have to stop asking who is a Copt, a Muslim or a Salafi. I don't see that. All I see is that we are all Egyptians and this should be the main principle," he said.
Mursi had appointed Qandil, a former Irrigation Minister, as his new Prime Minister last month, and asked him to form a Cabinet. Qandil was a senior bureaucrat in the Irrigation Ministry until the military council included him in the interim government of Kamal al-Ganzouri in July last year.
Incidentally, Mursi was sworn in as Egypt's first civilian and freely elected President on June 30 to replace Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down in February last year after handing over power to the country's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Although the Army chiefs have formally handed over power to Mursi after his victory in Egypt's first-ever free presidential elections, the country's powerful military has not yet handed over supreme power to the new president.
Earlier, the SCAF had dissolved the Parliament on June 17 in line with the Supreme Court ruling that part of the parliamentary election was unconstitutional as political party members had contested seats reserved for independents.
Nevertheless, Morsi attempted to reconvene the dissolved cabinet via a presidential decree last month. However, the Supreme Court invalidated that decree and ruled that its previous decisions on the issue were final. The court also stressed that they were unquestionable as well as binding on the government.
Besides dissolving the Parliament, the SCAF also issued a constitutional declaration in June, arming itself with sweeping legislative powers as well as control over the budget until a new Parliament is elected. The Council also retained the power to decide who should draft the new Constitution, and curtailed powers of the incoming President.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org