x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Morsi tightens Islamist grip with governor appointments

The Egyptian president has named a member of an Islamist group remembered for an attack on Western tourists in Luxor over a decade ago as governor of that province.

CAIRO // Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian president, has named a member of an Islamist group remembered for an attack on Western tourists in Luxor over a decade ago as governor of that province.

It was one of 17 gubernatorial appointments on Sunday that put Islamist allies in key positions across the country as Mr Morsi braces for protests on the anniversary of his inauguration at the end of the month.

Seven of the new governors listed by the state news agency are members of the Freedom and Justice Party, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and backed Mr Morsi in elections that followed the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The newly appointed Luxor governor, Adel Mohamed Al Khayat, is a member of the Building and Development party. The party was established by Al Gamaa Al Islamiya, a group that was involved in attacks in Luxor that killed around 60 tourists in the late 90s, but later renounced violence.

The opposition accuses Morsi and his allies of trying to monopolise power and install their operatives in every state institution. The Brotherhood accuses the opposition of trying to unseat Morsi after failing in elections.

In addition to the Islamists appointed, security officials were named as governors of the Suez and Red Sea provinces and near sensitive border areas.

Egypt has 27 governorates in all. Under Mubarak, top security officials held most of the posts.

Political analyst Hassan Nafaa said the appointments meant that "gradually, the Freedom and Justice Party wants to dominate the hinges of the country".

The liberal and secular Egyptian opposition plans mass demonstrations at the end of the month to demand his ouster.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition figure and a Nobel peace laureate, told a group of striking writers, film makers and Opera House staffers on Sunday, "We hope to see early departure of the regime ... it's a surreal and absurd regime."