Egypt’s prime minister-designate said on Tuesday his government would work to “crush terrorism” and that he hoped to form his new cabinet with the next three or four days.
“We will work together to restore security and safety to Egypt and crush terrorism in all corners of the country,” Ibrahim Mahlab told a news conference after interim head of state Adly Mansour asked him to form the new government.
The choice of defense minister may hold clues as to when army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will announce a widely expected bid for the presidency. Sisi must vacate the post of defense minister, which he held in the outgoing cabinet, in order to run in the vote that could be held as soon as April.
Speaking to Al-Ahram after meeting interim President Adly Mansour, Mahlab said he would immediately begin consultations on appointing a new cabinet.
The government of prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi resigned en masse Monday in a surprise move ahead of a presidential poll that is likely to bring outgoing defense minister and army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power.
Mahlab has met with interim president Adly Mansour, who “officially tasked (me) with forming a new government,” the newspaper quoted Mahlab as saying.
During Beblawi’s tenure, the state cracked down hard on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Rights groups criticized his government for crushing dissent through other moves, including a law imposing tough penalties on people who protest illegally.
Beblawi’s government received billions of dollars in aid from Gulf states hostile to the Brotherhood but was criticized by analysts for failing to take quick steps towards reforming an economy burdened by a massive state subsidy bill.
Besides serving as chairman and CEO of Arab Contractors Company. He headed the company for 11 years, Al-Ahram said, as it built several bridges and executed other projects in Cairo. Mahlab resigned from the company in September 2012.
Mahlab has also worked in Saudi Arabia, according to a curriculum vitae distributed by the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities.
“I think he will be a very practical prime minister, but of course it is a very difficult position given the economic problems and the very high expectations of the public,” said Angus Blair, chairman of business and economic forecasting think-tank Signet, who recently heard Mahlab speak at a seminar.
“He was very frank about the problems Egypt faces and very clear that you have to bring the population with you on what needs to done in policies that would have to be undertaken to improve the economy,” he said..
Mahlab is married and speaks English and French.
Mahlab, an engineer, was a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP) of Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled after 30 years in power by an Arab Spring-inspired uprising in 2011.
Mahlab, who is in his sixties, was also appointed to the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, in 2010.
(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)