Egypt's new cabinet takes office
Updated: 2012-08-03 06:47
CAIRO - Members of Egypt's new cabinet led by Prime Minister Hesham Qandil took oath Thursday before President Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace.
The new cabinet has 35 ministries, including four new ones like State Ministry of Sports, State Ministry of Youth, Investment Ministry and Ministry of Water and Sanitation.
Seven ministers of the outgoing cabinet of former Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri, including Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi and Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr, Finance Minister Momtaz el-Saeid, State Minister for Military Production Ali Sabri, Minister of Insurance and Social affairs Nagwa Khalil, State Minister for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim Ali and Minister of Scientific Research Nadia Zakhari will continue to hold their posts in the new cabinet.
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has four seats in the cabinet, covering the youth, housing, higher education and information portfolios.
The new government also groups a member from the Wasat party for the legislative councils and parliamentary affairs portfolio and a member of the Nahda Party for the industry and foreign trade portfolio.
After the ceremony, Morsi held the first meeting with the new cabinet, asking the new ministers to speedily implement the 100- day program which included five pillars, namely security, bread, fuel, traffic and cleaning, besides improving the popular services, activating the economy, encouraging the local and foreign investments and increasing the exports.
During the meeting, Morsi also affirmed the importance of dealing with the unemployment problem, providing work opportunities to the youths and encouraging the medium and small projects and boosting tourism.
As for the foreign relations, Morsi said the priority should be cementing relations with African countries and activating the common Arab markets.
Minister of Health Mohamed Moustafa Hamed, a Cairo University medicine professor, said the health care will count as top priority in his program in line with upgrading the health system all over the country.
Some ministers have U.S. education backgrounds, such as Minister of Transportation Mohamed Rashad el-Matiny, a professor of engineering at Cairo University. He got his PhD in civil engineering from Ohio University.
Tourism Minister Mohamed Hisham Zaazou, got his speciality certificate in partnership between the public and private sectors from Harvard University, working as head for the Egyptian association for tourism chambers.
Qandil asserted his keenness not to include any member of the former regime in his new cabinet, adding the government seeks to " fulfill all the revolution's demands, namely bread, freedom and social justice."
He added dealing with economic problems will be the great challenge as the country has a huge budget deficit and heavy foreign debt.
He regarded the new economic ministers as "a homogeneous and consistent group."
Also the security and Nile water will be top priorities for the new cabinet.
Salafist Nour party rejected participation in Qandil's government, and considered choosing the new prime minister is a breach of promises given previously by the MB. The party, the second largest in the dissolved parliament, supported Morsi in the presidential polls.
The liberal Wafd party refused to take part in the new cabinet, either. Other liberal groups, like the 6th April movement, criticized the new line-up of the cabinet and inquired about the criteria for choosing the ministers.
Acting as the irrigation minister in el-Ganzouri's cabinet, 50- year-old Qandil was appointed as the new prime minister by Morsi on July 24.
Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected as the first civilian president of Egypt in June and assumed office on June 30. He was also the first democratically elected president after the fall of ex-President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Mubarak now serves his life jail in Tora Prison in southern Cairo after being convicted of failing to stop the killing of protesters.
The military council, which has transferred power to Morsi, retains legislative power as the People's Assembly (lower house of parliament) was dissolved in June due to unconstitutionality. A new constitution has not been drafted either.