x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Egyptian caretaker PM wants support as new cabinet forms

Party cooperation is vital to solve social and economic issues.

Soldiers collect ballots at the end of voting for the run-off of the first round of voting in Cairo.
Soldiers collect ballots at the end of voting for the run-off of the first round of voting in Cairo.

CAIRO // Egypt's caretaker premier named a new cabinet yesterday that is charged with tackling worsening crime and a sliding economy after the first round of elections showed a landslide victory for Islamist parties.

Kamal Al Ganzuri, the interim prime minister, announced his administration following nearly two weeks of delays, reportedly caused by problems in finding a suitable candidate to fill the sensitive interior ministry post.

He finally opted for Mohammed Ibrahim Yusuf, who headed police in the district of Giza in Cairo, who was sworn before the head of Egypt's ruling military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, state television said.

Police have been accused of brutally handling protests against Field Marshal Tantawi, in which 43 people have died, and crime is seen as having increased since Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February.

The foreign minister Mohammed Kamel Amr was retained from the former cabinet, which resigned in November in the face of escalating protests, while Mumtaz Said was named as the finance minister.

Mr Ganzuri, speaking to reporters on Tuesday night, called on all political parties to pull together behind his administration, billed as a national salvation government.

"We can't leave security and the economy like this," he said.

"I ask for all the political movements, all the parties, and every individual to come together for the good of the country."

Yesterday, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) also announced it had granted Mr Ganzuri "presidential powers", giving him greater control to run the country but no oversight of the armed forces or judiciary.

The opening round of the first elections since Mr Mubarak's fall wrapped up on Tuesday, showing a crushing victory for Islamist parties over their fragmented liberal rivals.

The Muslim Brotherhood, banned for decades by Mr Mubarak, said its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) had won 36 out of 54 individual seats up for grabs in the first phase of the multi-stage parliamentary polls.

In a separate party vote, which will see more than a 100 seats distributed, it won 36.6 per cent while the hardline Islamic fundamentalist party Al Nour came second with 24.4 per cent.

The FJP's expected landslide victory in the individual seats - set to be confirmed by official results - and its pre-eminence in the party voting sets it up to become the leading power in the 498-seat new lower parliament.

Al Nour won five seats in the run-off, said the party spokesman Mohammed Nour.

"The Islamists win a crushing victory," headlined the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.

Only one third of districts have voted so far, however, with the remainder set to head to the polls in a further two waves beginning on December 14 and in January.

Although attention inside and outside Egypt has focused on the country's troubled transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule by Mr Mubarak, the economy is causing grave concern.