Egypt's Morsi Appoints Youngest PM Since Nasser

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi appoints Hisham Kandil as prime minister as critics question his experience.

Elad Benari,

Morsi meets with new PM Hisham Kandil
Morsi meets with new PM Hisham Kandil

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi appointed Irrigation Minister Hisham Kandil as Egypt's prime minister-designate on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The report said that critics of Morsi’s Islamist movement questioned his choice of a prime minister who they said lacked the clout to bridge deep political divisions.

Kandil’s appointment will allow Morsi to exert greater control over a day to day government that is still being overseen by a cabinet appointed last year by the military leadership which took power after former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. The military handed authority to Morsi on June 30.

“It's clear that Kandil wasn’t Morsi's first choice,” Shadi Hamid, a political analyst at the Brookings Doha Center, told Reuters. “The prime minister job at this juncture is not an attractive one for high-profile figures. It is a very risky one to accept.”

Kandil will need to move fast to address acute economic problems including a looming balance of payments crisis and unaffordable state borrowing costs.

The time it had taken Morsi to name his new prime minister underlined how Egypt is struggling to turn the new political freedom brought by the overthrow of Mubarak into an effective government.

Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood politician and the country's first civilian president, is seeking to stamp his authority on a state where the military that assumed power from Mubarak still looms large.

Highlighting the continued influence of the generals, Kandil said Morsi was in contact with them on the choice of the new defense minister, a post currently held by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who held the post under Mubarak.

Reuters quoted a spokesman for Morsi as having described Kandil as an "independent patriot" who had not belonged to a party either before or after the uprising against Mubarak.

Aged 49, according to a profile published by the official MENA news agency, Kandil is the youngest prime minister since Gamal Abdel Nasser, who came to power in 1954 as both head of state and head of government.

Kandil, speaking after a meeting with Morsi, promised a cabinet of technocrats, saying, “Competence will be the prime measure in choosing the ministers.”

Kandil said his first priority would be to implement Morsi's plan for his first 100 days in office, including easing traffic congestion and public cleanliness, while ending bread and fuel shortages.

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