Egypt: New cabinet sworn in by military govt

17th Jul 2013

Egypt has sworn in its first cabinet since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was deposed almost two weeks ago. Supporters of the ousted president have been quick to denounce the new cabinet and reject its authority.

The new 35-member Egyptian cabinet was sworn in on Tuesday in a ceremony in Cairo, attended by the army-appointed interim president, Adli Mansour.

The cabinet is led by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, an economist. Nabil Fahmy, a former ambassador to Washington, has become foreign minister, and Mohammed Ibrahim retains the job of interior minister, which he also held under Morsi.

Among those taking the oath was the army chief, General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who was appointed first deputy prime minister and minister of defense. El-Sissi led the popularly backed military coup that ousted Morsi.

As an indication of the relatively liberal focus of the new goverment, the cabinet also contains three women, including health minister Maha el-Rabat. Most past governments have had no more than two women in them.

Cabinet “illegitimate”

No figures from Islamist parties are included in the cabinet, although a spokesman for the interim president had previously said posts would be offered to the political wing of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. The group refused to participate, saying it would never cease to call for Morsi’s reinstatement.

The Brotherhood has also denounced the new cabinet. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said: “It’s an illegitimate government, an illegitimate prime minister, an illegitimate cabinet. We don’t recognize anyone in it.”

The appointment of the government is meant to be part of President Mansour’s plan to restore democratic rule, with elections to be held in seven months’ time.

Continued clashes

The swearing-in of the new government was overshadowed by overnight violence between police and Morsi supporters in which seven people were killed, bringing the death toll since the coup to more than 100, according to a tally from the AFP news agency.

The clashes came shortly after US envoy Bill Burns, the most senior US official to visit since the Morsi ouster, appealed for an end to the violence.

Morsi was ousted by the army on July 3 after a wave of public protests at perceived misgovernment during his one year in power. His critics accuse him of having concentrated power in Brotherhood hands, mismanaging the economy, and failing to protect minorities.

His supporters have called the coup an affront to democracy.

Morsi is currently being held at a secret location. He has not been charged with any crime, but authorities say he is being investigated for inciting violence, spying, and ruining the economy.

tj/pfd (Reuters, afp, AP)

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