CAIRO, Aug 2, 2012 (AFP) -
CAIRO, Aug 2, 2012 (AFP) –
Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil unveiled a new cabinet on Thursday that retained military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi as defence minister while giving the ruling Islamists and their allies several portfolios.
The cabinet, formed more than a month after the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi took office, reflects the precarious balance of power between Morsi and the military, which had ruled the country before Morsi took office.
Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said, who served in a military-appointed government, will keep his post, although Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had strongly opposed his budget.
The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party took at least five cabinet seats including the information ministry which regulates the media, and education.
Qandil, a self-described devout Muslim whose appointment dismayed Morsi’s secular election allies, said he chose the ministers based on their competence.
“The main principle, the main criterion, was competence,” he said at a news conference.
“We should stop using such terms as them and us, and that this is a Christian, or a Copt, or a Muslim. All I see is Egyptians and citizens,” he said.
He said the cabinet will comprise 35 ministers, including eight ministers of state, and will have to tackle the “enormous” economic and security challenges facing the country since Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February last year.
Morsi, who campaigned on reviving Egypt’s economy and quickly restoring its deteriorating security, is eager to push through his programme with a technocratic government, his aides had said.
But he must still contend with the military, which has been historically suspicious of the Islamists, and which controls the budget and retains legislative authority after a court ordered the Islamist-dominated parliament disbanded in June.
The military also dominates a powerful national security council headed by Morsi.