Egypt's New Prime Minister Announces Government

Egypt's prime minister, Hisham Kandil, draws on bureaucrats and Islamists for the first Muslim Brotherhood-led administration.

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Elad Benari,

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi meets new Pr
Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi meets new Pr

Egypt's prime minister has drawn on bureaucrats and Islamists for the country's first Muslim Brotherhood-led administration, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minister-designate Hisham Kandil's appointment of at least two Brotherhood politicians, including one as education minister, marked a major break with the past. But the cabinet's heavy reliance on civil servants also smacked of the era of former President Hosni Mubarak, when government was run by technocrats, the report noted.

The report added that the new cabinet should help President Mohammed Morsi assert more authority in a state where the army still has a powerful say. The choice of defense minister was one of the few portfolios not announced on Wednesday.

Incumbents who kept their jobs included Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Saeed and Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr Kamel, both of them career bureaucrats. The government, which replaces an interim one which took office last year, is due to be sworn in on Thursday.

The new interior minister was named as Ahmed Gamal el-Din, a career policeman similar to those who held the job under Mubarak. He pledged to confront the lawlessnness of which Egyptians have complained since Mubarak was deposed.

Mostafa Mussad, a member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, was appointed education minister. Another Brotherhood member was appointed to run the housing ministry.

The new government gives the Brotherhood, banned before the revolution which toppled Mubarak in 2011, a powerful influence in Egypt.

Reuters noted that Egyptian newspapers have said Kandil himself has close links to the Brotherhood, though he has denied it.

Kandil, the country’s former Irrigation Minister, was appointed by Morsi last week. At 49 years old, he is the youngest prime minister since Gamal Abdel Nasser, who came to power in 1954 as both head of state and head of government.

The ministries of investment and oil, major economic portfolios, were handed to top-level state employees, Reuters reported.

The incoming government faces economic problems including a looming balance of payments crisis and high state borrowing costs, factors which analysts say discouraged economists and bankers approached by Morsi from taking the post of prime minister, prolonging the wait for the new cabinet.

Some of the non-Islamists who backed Morsi's election campaign in order to prevent Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, from winning the presidency have criticized the Brotherhood for rowing back on promises of an inclusive administration.

Other parties had publicly stated they would not take part in the government, meaning the Brotherhood will bear the burden of failings that seem hard to avoid in a country faced with such grave economic challenges.