Top News: Egypt PM Qandil Makes Some Surprise, Controversial Ministerial Choices
Newly appointed Prime Minister Hisham Qandil completed the formation of his government Thursday morning. In total, the Qandil government includes 35 ministers, compared to 29 under his predecessor, Kamal El-Ganzouri. Qandil’s government includes 29 technocrats (seven of whom served under El-Ganzouri), four ministers from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, one minister from the moderate Islamist Al-Wasat Party, and one from the Salafist Al-Nahda Party.
[Ahram Online, 8/3/2012] Newly appointed Prime Minister Hisham Qandil completed the formation of his government Thursday morning. In total, the Qandil government includes 35 ministers, compared to 29 under his predecessor, Kamal El-Ganzouri. Qandil’s government includes 29 technocrats (seven of whom served under El-Ganzouri), four ministers from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, one minister from the moderate Islamist Al-Wasat Party, and one from the Salafist Al-Nahda Party. A few hours before completing his government, Qandil surprised all by appointing controversial figures as the ministers of information and justice. Qandil selected Salah Abdel-Maqsoud, a Muslim Brotherhood member of the board of the Journalists' Syndicate, as minister of information. Qandil also decided to appoint Ahmed Mekki, former deputy chairman of the Court of Cassation and critic of the Supreme Constitutional Court, as minister of justice.
[Egypt Independent, 8/3/2012] President Mohamed Morsy held a meeting with the newly appointed members of Prime Minister Hesham Qandil's Cabinet this evening after they were sworn in at the presidential palace. On Thursday evening Morsy directed the ministers to begin enforcing his 100-day plan, which focuses on the five areas of security, bread, fuel, traffic and cleanliness. The plan also includes improving state services for citizens, reigniting the economy, increasing exports and encouraging local and foreign investments.
[Egypt Independent, Al Masry Al Youm (Arabic) 8/2/2012] The Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution plans to hold a meeting on Sunday to decide the fate of the Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt's parliament. Also on the assembly’s agenda is whether or not to do away with earmarking a percentage of parliamentary seats for workers and farmers. The Constituent Assembly’s committee on systems of governance is leaning towards canceling the legislation earmarking parliamentary seats, and giving the Shura Council the power to issue laws.
[Egypt Independent, Al Shorouk (Arabic) 8/3/2012] An Egyptian security source on Friday accused Israeli travel agencies of being behind Israeli authorities’ warnings to Israeli tourists in Sinai, who have been urged to leave. “It has become common in Israel for travel agencies to spread these rumors in order to keep Israeli tourists inside Israel instead of going to Sinai, which causes losses for these agencies,” the source told DPA. He called on Israeli travel agencies to desist from circulating such allegations. The counter-terrorism department in Israel had called Thursday for all Israeli tourists who were in Sinai to leave the peninsula immediately due to terrorist threats.
[Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), 8/3/2012] Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has ordered authorities to punish the culprits of recent sectarian clashes in the town of Dahshur, Giza "to the full extent of the law," Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali said Thursday. Last week, a personal quarrel between a Muslim and a Coptic-Christian in the town quickly escalated, drawing in residents from both communities. The Maspero Youth Union, a revolutionary group that defends Coptic rights, released a statement following the Dahshur clashes in which it said that 120 Coptic families had since been expelled from the area. On Thursday, the Shura Council – the upper, consultative house of Egypt's parliament – set up an eight-member committee tasked with reconciling Dahshur's Muslim and Christian communities in a bid to pre-empt further violence. Mohamed ElBaradei, leading liberal figure and secretary-general of the Dostor Party, also posted comments on Twitter arguing that harsh sanctions must be imposed for discrimination and crimes motivated by prejudice, in order to reduce sectarian strife in Egypt.
[Daily News Egypt, Youm 7 (Arabic) 8/3/2012] The Egyptian Dar Al-Ifta’ issued a fatwa saying it is “religiously unacceptable for any Muslims to publicly display that they are not fasting in Ramadan without an excuse,” noting that whoever violates the fatwa is”reckless and frivolous towards Muslim rites.” The fatwa was posted on the Facebook page of the Media Centre of the Egyptian Dar Al-Ifta’ on Thursday, though no mention was made of the fatwa on the official website of Dar Al-Ifta’. The fatwa was issued in order to fight “reckless behavior,” whereas the “guardian” (of the people) – a religious term used to refer to the governor of the people – should take the necessary measures to prevent this action.
[Ahram Online, 8/3/2012] The economy ministers chosen for Prime Minister Hisham Qandil's new government are mostly new faces on the political scene, with only the finance minister from the previous cabinet retaining his post. Amid a group of technocrats the one exception is new trade minister, Hatem Saleh, CEO of Gozour Group and a relatively famous tycoon. The core economic group of Egypt's Cabinet consists of the ministries of finance, planning, investment and industry and foreign trade. (See article for profiles.)
[Reuters, 8/3/2012] Egypt has asked the United States to free an Egyptian held at Guantanamo Bay since 2001 and who had been charged with backing terrorist groups in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr sent a letter to Clinton on Tuesday asking for the release of Tarek El Sawah, the last Egyptian held in Guantanamo, spokesman Amr Roshdy said. El Sawah has been detained in Guantanamo without trial or proof of crime, the letter said, adding the Egyptian government will appoint an American lawyer specializing in the rights of Guantanamo prisoners to defend him.
[Egypt Independent, 8/3/2012] The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper said Friday that President Mohamed Morsy will not attend the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran at the end of August, where Egypt is scheduled to hand over chairmanship of the movement to Iran. A source close to the presidency said either Prime Minister Hesham Qandil or Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr would likely represent Egypt at the summit. The source added that Morsy decided not to attend after being advised that he should not visit Tehran.
[Egypt Independent, Al Shorouk (Arabic), 8/3/2012] Emirati authorities in Dubai pardoned 57 Egyptian detainees on the occasion of Ramadan, Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Amr Roshdy said in a statement. Roshdy said that the detainees were released after Egypt's Consul General to Dubai Mohab Nasr contacted the authorities there to ask for the pardons. The Foreign Ministry says it is making significant efforts to release Egyptian prisoners in Gulf countries.
Photo Credit: Al-Ahram