Mubarak 311 Reuters.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah )
The swearing-in ceremony of Egypt’s newly reconfigured cabinet was delayed for a
second time Tuesday. The reshuffle is meant to mollify protesters camped out in
central Cairo since July 8 demanding faster reforms by the ruling military
council and a deeper purge of officials of former president Hosni Mubarak’s
About 15 new ministers were supposed to take the oath of office
on Monday, but the ceremony was delayed when Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was
taken to hospital for high blood pressure. The ceremony will be held after
Sharaf regains his health and returns to work, cabinet sources said, adding that
the swearing-in could be held by the end of the week.
On Monday, state TV
said preparations for parliamentary elections will begin on September 18, with
the vote overseen by one of the country’s top judges.
“The High Electoral
Committee will begin its duties starting on September 18 and will be headed by
the president of the appeals court in Cairo,” an army source
The source did not say what the election preparations would
entail, but earlier this month another army source said it would start with
candidate registrations followed by an official campaigning period.
actual ballot could be put off as late as November.
The bulk of the new
cabinet members were chosen expressly for their lack of ties to Mubarak’s
National Democratic Party. Incoming foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, a
surprising but relatively safe choice, is a career diplomat who has served in
Washington and Saudi Arabia, but has been out of government service for nearly a
decade while representing Egypt at the World Bank. Amr is Cairo’s third foreign
minister in less than six months.
The formerly outlawed Wafd party stands
to be the reshuffle’s greatest beneficiary, locking up a number of important
posts including the tourism and information ministries.
Several weeks ago
the party announced it would join forces with the influential Muslim Brotherhood
in a bid to forge a united front in the post-revolution government.
Ezz el-arab, vice chairman of the putatively liberal and secular party, made
waves earlier this month with a conspiracy theory-laced tirade of Holocaust
denial and 9/11 revisionism on the sidelines of a human rights conference in
honor of the late US congressman and Holocaust survivor Tom Lantos.
Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups were largely kept out of the
A week ago the Brotherhood publicly rejected any idea of
joining the new cabinet, with Saad El-Katatni, head of the movement’s Freedom
and Justice Party, telling Al-Ahram newspaper, “It would be a big loss to join
any government at the present time – it is better to wait until a new parliament
is elected and a new prime minister selected.”
Leaders of the harder-line
Salafi groups struck a more belligerent note. “The new cabinet reshuffle was
mainly aimed to appease the protesters in Tahrir Square,” Salafi leaders told
the daily, calling for a “Friday of Sharia” to protest the move.
cabinet reshuffle and the document on supraconstitutional principles go against
the will of the majority of Egyptians,” they said. “It is just aimed to satisfy
the secularists and liberals, and this is very bad for recovering
A peaceful transition will depend on how effectively the
military rulers can manage pressure from the street for faster reforms and keep
a lid on social tensions made worse by an economic crisis.
needed is to restore the trust and the credibility of the government. The basic
problem facing us now in the short run is restoring security; not just security
but the perception of security,” Hazem el- Beblawi, due to replace Samir Radwan
as finance minister, told Reuters on Tuesday. Radwan is widely seen as a
pragmatist with a free-market outlook.
Activists pushing for a swift move
to civilian rule have called the reshuffle too little, too late, saying it fails
to purge the government of former Mubarak allies.
Sources said Monday
that the deposed president may be tried next month in the Red Sea resort where
he is in hospital, rather than in Cairo as originally planned. The move could
anger protesters who say the army wants to shield its former
Mubarark, 83, has been in hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh since
April when he was initially questioned. He has been detained there and charged
with abusing power and killing protesters in the uprising that unseated him on
Amid their discontent over the pace of political reform,
protesters are also frustrated with the slow pace of the trial of a man they
blame for killing more than 840 protesters in the uprising and creating a state
that concentrated power and wealth in the hands of an elite.
likely Mubarak’s trial will be held in a criminal court in Sharm el-Sheikh,
which is being set up now by the Justice Ministry for the trial,” a judicial
source said. “Should his health condition get worse, the trial will be held in
the hospital where Mubarak now is,” the source said.
Egyptians are skeptical about Mubarak’s illness, seeing it as a ruse so the
ruling army can avoid a humiliating public trial for the war veteran. Reuters contributed to this report