Last updated: 10 May, 2012

Mini-reshuffle in Egypt as Islamists demand new PM

Egypt’s military rulers appointed four new cabinet ministers on Thursday in a mini-reshuffle that fell far short of the demands of the Islamist-dominated parliament for a change of government.

Islamists have been clamouring for a new premier to take the reins ahead of Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential elections which are due May 23-24, accusing Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzuri of stalling the revolution.

Earlier this month, parliament suspended sessions for a week in protest at the military refusing to sack the government and name the powerful Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) to head a new one.

The new appointees — who will head the ministries of higher education, culture, labour and parliamentary Affairs — are technocrats or university lecturers with no party affiliation, official sources said.

They were sworn in during a ceremony overseen by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces which took power after the ouster last year of veteran president Hosni Mubarak.

Mohammed Abdel Hamid el-Nashar was named minister of higher education; Mohammed Saber Arab named culture minister, Refat Mohammed Hassan appointed culture minister and Amr Mohammed Salem minister for parliamentary affairs.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has been very critical of Ganzuri — who was also prime minister under Mubarak — and has repeatedly urged the military rulers to sack him and appoint a new cabinet.

“Keeping this government as we approach presidential elections… which raises suspicions over the fairness of these elections, as well as the general decline of affairs, are things we cannot remain silent or patient over,” the Brotherhood said in a statement in March.

But the Ganzuri government is due to stay in power until a new cabinet is formed by the president who emerges from this month’s polls.

If the May 23-24 first round does not produce a winner, a runoff will be held in June.