CAIRO: Egypt is expected to unveil a new cabinet by tomorrow, three officials said yesterday, with the finance minister and others likely to keep their posts following the election of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.
Keeping the main ministers could allow Sisi to quickly implement the types of reform urged by the United Arab Emirates — one of the Gulf states that gave billions of dollars in aid after Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was ousted by the army.
Sisi, the former army chief who was inaugurated last Sunday reappointed Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb last week.
Consultations on the cabinet lineup are ongoing, state radio reported yesterday. Mehleb has said the current government would stay on in a caretaker role until he forms his cabinet.
The new cabinet is expected to be sworn in tomorrow, two ministers said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It is likely to convene for the first time on Monday, another government source said.
Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian is expected to stay, as are the ministers for planning and international cooperation, supplies, housing, industry, defence and interior, government sources have said. Educated at Columbia University in the United States, Dimian worked as a senior finance ministry official for more than five years until he resigned last year under Mursi.
A senior European diplomat has described him as the only ministry expert able to deal professionally with the International Monetary Fund during a failed attempt under Mursi to secure a $4.8bn loan.
Mehleb, 65, was appointed prime minister in a February reshuffle after serving as housing minister. A civil engineer, he is a former chairman of Arab Contractors, one of the region’s largest construction companies.
He worked briefly in Saudi Arabia before joining the government following Sisi’s overthrow of Mursi last July after mass protests against the Islamist president. The ultra-conservative Salafist Nour party has said it is willing to join a cabinet under Sisi.
Meanwhile, a policeman was shot dead in the aftermath of clashes in Cairo yesterday, Egypt’s interior ministry said, after a protest staged by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi. The policeman was hit by a bullet in the chest as he took an arrested protester to a police van after security forces broke up the protest on the outskirts of the capital’s upscale Maadi district, the ministry said on its Facebook page. He was declared dead on arrival at hospital, it said, adding that the bullet that killed him was fired from a nearby building.
The pro-Mursi demonstration came after the Islamist Anti-Coup Alliance called for a week of protests from yesterday under the slogan “Freedom For Egypt”.
The alliance regularly calls for and stages demonstrations against the military-installed authorities since Mursi’s ouster last July.
State television also reported the policeman’s killing, and in a separate report the official Mena news agency said at least 65 protesters were arrested nationwide yesterday.
Mursi was ousted by former army chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who last month overwhelmingly won a presidential election that was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement to which Morsi belongs.
Since Mursi’s removal, a government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters has killed more than 1,400 people and jailed upwards of 15,000. Hundreds have also been sentenced to death in often speedy trials.
The new president wants more Egyptians to cycle — and to show he means business he took hundreds of cyclists, including public figures, through Cairo at 5.30am yesterday. A set of surreal photographs showed a helmetless Sisi straddling a Peugeot bicycle at the head of a vast swath of all-male bikers as he led them — like a puffing Pied Piper — through the streets of Cairo.
“This is the only way to build Egypt,” he said before the rally, claiming that cyclists would save Egypt money. The average two-way bike trip costs the state about GBP1.30 less than if the same trip was by car, Sisi said. Egypt spent 170bn pounds (£14bn), or about a fifth of its budget, on energy subsidies — a bill it can no longer afford. Sisi’s move was met with bemusement in Egypt, where Cairo is seen as hell for those on bicycles and temperatures can reach 46C. But he was welcomed by a small but growing band of cyclists.
“Of course it’s great,” said Ahmed El Dorghamy, co-founder of Cairo Cycler’s Club, who says the capital’s flat terrain and sunny weather has the makings of a safe place to cycle. “We are always trying to get celebrities to join us - and the ultimate goal is to get ministers and even presidents.” Increased bike use, he said, could help counter a rising obesity problem - Egypt is the seventh fattest country in the world - as well as chronic traffic jams and an unsustainable fuel subsidies bill.