Newly appointed Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi began procedures late Wednesday night to form his cabinet, even as deposed President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters vowed to stage more protests calling for the reinstatement of the Muslim Brotherhood government.
Beblawi, an economist and former finance minister, told state-run news website Al-Ahram Gate that he has not yet made any formal offers of government posts, and has to date only met with his deputy Ziad Bahaa al-Din to discuss the formation of the cabinet. It would be challenging to assemble a government that would be unanimously backed by all Egyptians, Beblawi said, but nonetheless he would try to “meet the expectations of the people.”
Interim President Adly Mansour had given him “complete freedom” in choosing the ministers, the PM told the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY).
“I have a general idea about forming a harmonious cabinet that is primarily characterized by competence, technical experience and credibility, regardless of any other considerations,” Beblawi said.
Al-Ahram cited unidentified sources as saying that the new cabinet would be made up of twenty ministers, with the defense, interior, military production, civil aviation and tourism ministers holding over from former Prime Minister Hesham Qandil’s Cabinet. The National Salvation Front, the main opposition coalition against Morsi’s government, said the NSF would recommend candidates to Beblawi who “have experience,” front spokesperson Azzazi Ali Azzazi told Al-Ahram.
Beblawi, seventy-seven, is seeking to form a cabinet that would be backed by the diverse groups and parties that helped usher in the end of Morsi’s rule on 3 July, when he was deposed by the military following mass protests organized by the grassroots Tamarod (Rebel) campaign. Beblawi had said that no one, including the Muslim Brotherhood, would be excluded from the political process — but the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, has already said it would not take part in the new government.
The Salafi Nour Party — which had initially backed Morsi’s ouster, but later withdrew from talks to form a new government in protest against army brutality against pro-Morsi protesters — said it would only offer suggestions for candidates not affiliated to its party, while steering clear of directly taking any active role.
Meanwhile, the National Alliance for the Support of Legitimacy — a coalition of forty Islamist parties and groups— called for a million-man protest on Friday to reject Mansour’s 8 July Constitutional Declaration, describing it as a “coup against legitimacy.” In a statement published in Al-Ahram, the alliance said Beblawi`s government would be “built on the ruins of the 25 January Revolution.” Morsi’s supporters have been sitting in at the Rabea al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City to demand his return to power, decrying the removal of the elected president as a blow against democracy.
The leaders of the Tamarod campaign have also voiced concerns about the way the transitional period is managed, and joined in the calls to protest the constitutional declaration, which they were not consulted on, they claim. “Tamarod calls on all Egyptians to march on Friday to protect the revolution. Mubarak’s judges and generals have stolen the revolution,” the group said on Twitter.
Under the temporary charter, the country’s constitution, which was drafted by a dominantly Islamist Constituent Assembly, would be amended and presidential elections called for within a maximum period of seven months.
[This article originally appeared on Mada Masr.]