[Picture released by Middle East News Agency (MENA) shows Egypt’s newly-appointed interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab (front 5th, L) and interim President Adli Mansour (front 6th, L) pose with the newly-appointed cabinet members at the Presidential Palace in Cairo (Xinhua/MENA)]
CAIRO, (Xinhua): Egypt’s interim government headed by newly-appointed Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab was sworn in on Saturday, with Military Chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi remaining in office as the defense minister, state-run Nile TV reported.
If Sisi, who also kept his post as the first deputy prime minister, announces that he will run for president which is a widely expected bid, he will have to resign as the minister and head of the Armed Forces.
Sisi is expected to announce whether he will compete in the upcoming presidential election after a new presidential law is approved.
As many as 20 ministers from the outgoing cabinet kept their posts, including ministers of foreign affairs, information, petroleum, culture, tourism, transportation and environment.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who was appointed during former president Mohamed Morsi’s one-year rule, also retained his post.
Ibrahim, who survived an assassination bid last September, is facing a tough task to keep the country’s stability and security amid a string of terrorist attacks hitting the country and the growing militant insurgency in the restive Sinai peninsula, which killed dozens of policemen, observers say.
The 32-minister lineup included 12 new ones, such as the minister of finance, health, Justice, electricity, social solidarity, civil aviation, and housing.
Hany Kadry Dimian, a key negotiator with the International Monetary Fund and the first deputy to the outgoing finance minster, is appointed as the new minister of finance.
Mohamed Shaker, chairman of a consultancy and engineering firm, will head the Electricity Ministry, while Nahed el-Ashry, who served as head of the department of labor relations and played a major role in negotiations with striking workers, will take the Manpower Ministry.
Twelve ministries were merged into six in the new cabinet, among them Ministry of Industry and Trade was merged with the Investment Ministry, the Administrative Development and Local Development Ministries will be jointly headed by Adel Labib, the minister of the outgoing local development. Youth and Sport Ministries will be headed by Khaled Abdel Aziz of the outgoing Youth Ministry.
The new line-up led by Mahlab was announced after the sudden resignation of ex-prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who took office in July after the army disposed former Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi.
The new cabinet is tasked with organizing a presidential election set for mid-April.
Noha Bakir, a professor at Cairo University for Political Sciences, told Xinhua that the new government and new president ” will carry huge economic burdens and challenges, and seek reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.”