News Analysis: Egypt's 10-minister cabinet reshuffle meets with opposition dissatisfaction
2013-01-07 08:53:00

  CAIRO, Jan. 6 -- Egypt's controversial cabinet reshuffle that includes 10 new ministers was met by general dissatisfaction of the opposition forces, particularly the main opposition bloc dubbed "the National Salvation Front."

  The opposition argues that the cabinet reshuffle does not provide any new vision to face the country's ongoing political and economic challenges, claiming that it is just meant to enhance the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)'s power in the government.

  At least three out of the ten new ministers belong to President Mohamed Morsi's MB group, namely Supplies Minister Basem Kamal, Transportation Minister Hatem Abdel-Latif and Local Development Minister Mohamed Ali Bishr, increasing the total number of MB- originated ministers in the 35-minister cabinet to eight.

  While it is uncertain whether or not the new Electricity Minister Ahmed Imam is a MB member, the new Finance Minister Al- Morsi al-Sayed Hegazi is known to be close to the group but not a member.

  "The government is not the problem, but the lack of a specific strategy is the main problem," opposition Front member Wahid Abdel- Mageed told Xinhua, stressing that there should be a clear vision to deal with the economic and social crises, to resolve the issue of lack of security and to bridge the growing political gap.

  "Political division will increase and the economic crisis will get worse if the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), remain stubborn and if the political leadership lacks the will and desire for consensus between all Egyptians for the common good," Abdel-Mageed added.

  Further, Mohamed al-Saeed, general coordinator of Revolution Youth Union, said that rather than the reshuffle, the main problem was the government and its chief Prime Minister Hesham Qandil.

  "The government's policies are wrong, and the recent cabinet reshuffle is only a plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to tighten their control of the country's joints and to dominate all ministries before the upcoming parliamentary elections," Al-Saeed said.

  He noted that sacking former Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin was "a big political surprise" as security conditions started to gradually improve under his leadership.

  Al-Saeed added that the ex-interior minister was neutral and fair in dealing with recent anti-government protests and therefore the MB wanted to have him sacked before the nationwide anti-Morsi protests intended on Jan. 25.

  Political analysts believe that the MB was trying to dominate the short-term cabinet ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections to guarantee their weight and strength in the Egyptian electoral street.

  "The Muslim Brotherhood practices explicit interference that would confuse any minister," Ammar Ali Hassan, political analyst and researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Xinhua.

  "Ministers understand that the Brotherhood, having an eye on the parliamentary elections, would not allow any official to make a decision that would negatively affect their status in the street, even if it's for the common good," he noted.

  Hassan, therefore, believes that the new ministers will not be able to make any difference, pointing out that "the constitutional declaration according to which the government is formed make the ministers mere secretaries for the president who only carry out his commands."

  For his part, political science professor Hassan Nafaa told Xinhua that "the Muslim Brotherhood group wants to rule the country in its own way, unaware that there is a deep political crisis that needs a completely different vision."

  "I do not expect the new cabinet reshuffle to contribute to resolving the ongoing crises or to change things in the country even for a little bit," Nafaa added.

  On the other hand, Morsi's main supporters, particularly the MB, welcomed the reshuffle and showed optimism about the move, which is a general Islamist reaction to the decisions made by Morsi or his government.

  "We wish the best for the new ministers to achieve what their predecessors failed to do," MB spokesman Mahmoud Ghuzlan told Xinhua, adding that those criticizing the reshuffle were like evaluating a student without exams.

  "Nothing will make them satisfied anyway," Ghuzlan noted, referring to the opposition that described the cabinet reshuffle as "inadequate."

  Meanwhile, the MB's FJP's party spokesman Ahmed Sobea hoped that the cabinet reshuffle would make "a leap" in dealing with the ongoing challenges, inviting all political parties and forces to cooperate with the government, which does not represent a certain faction or political current according to Sobea.

  "We call on everyone, supporters and opponents, to cooperate with the government. We as FJP offer all our expertise, cadres and qualified members to assist the government whenever required," Sobea told Xinhua.

  As usual, Egypt's opposition and Islamists are poles apart, and the recent cabinet reshuffle seems to be nothing but a new dimension in the division between supporters and opponents of Morsi and his government. Editor:王亚丽

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