Egypt´s president faces backlash from allies (AP) Associated Press) By MAGGIE MICHAEL, CAIRO, EGYPT 07/28/12 12:35 pm ET)
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CAIRO – An alliance of pro-democracy advocates on Saturday criticized
Egypt´s new Islamist president for unilaterally choosing a prime
minister with no track record, while leading without transparency and
alienating political groups with liberal leanings.
The National Front alliance — an umbrella group of democracy
advocates, secularists and moderate Islamists behind the uprising
that drove longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak from power last
year — said Mohammed Morsi has reneged on campaign promises to form a
national unity government.
On Tuesday, Morsi surprised the country by choosing an unknown
technocrat and former water minister, Hesham Kandil, as his prime
minister. Many advocates see Kandil, a U.S.-educated engineer in his
40s, as a political lightweight.
The new government faces a mounting crisis amid alarming lawlessness,
a flagging economy, and public frustration. Hospitals have come under
attack by angry Egyptians, while demonstrators block roads in
frustration over frequent power outages and a lack of running water.
Labor strikes are widespread.
Morsi picked Kandil a month after assuming his post as Egypt´s first
elected civilian president. Observers say the delay reflected
hesitation by Morsi and his group the Muslim Brotherhood to reach out
to strong consensus figures.
In a news conference, the Front said Morsi´s decision-making "lacks
transparency and clarity," creating "a clouded political scene." They
reminded the president of his debt to allies who supported him last
month in the decisive round of voting, helping him beat old-guard
rival Ahmed Shafiq.
In return for the support, Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim
Brotherhood, had pledged inclusiveness. In a meeting with the Front
last month, he said he would choose an independent, nationalist
politician to be Egypt´s prime minister.
"It was surprising that the person named ... didn´t meet the criteria
and this is the first indicator of the path we are taking," said Heba
Raouf, a moderate Islamist political science professor and a member
of the Front. She said talks over the new government were
held "behind closed doors."
Kandil on Saturday said that he will announce members of his cabinet
on Thursday, according to Egypt´s state-run news agency. Daily papers
carried speculation about the incoming members, who will hail from
Morsi´s Brotherhood, an ultraconservative Muslim Salafist bloc, and
pools of technocrats with no clear political affiliation.
The liberal Wafd party, one of the oldest parties in Egypt and a one-
time political ally to the Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement
that it will not join Morsi´s new government. Several current
ministers, including Wafd party Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhri Abdel-
Nour, a Christian, have said they will not serve in the new cabinet
Morsi is also under heavy pressure from the powerful military council
which took power after the ouster of Mubarak. Before naming him as a
victor, the council dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament,
took over legislative authorities and trimmed Morsi´s presidential
The National Front said those moves created a "duplication of
authority" in Egypt and called on Morsi to defy the military and
fight for his powers.
Attempts to take on the generals have failed, however. Earlier this
month, Morsi ordered the dissolved parliament to reconvene, but the
move was struck down by the country´s Constitutional Court, which
said the parliament is unconstitutional because based on a flawed
The court is packed by Mubarak-era and anti-Islamist judges who are
fervent opponents of adding more religion to public life, which they
believe Brotherhood´s and Morsi aim to do.
The conflict over the new cabinet is fast becoming the next contest
between Morsi and the military. Political actors doubt the generals
would allow Morsi and Kandil free reign in forming a government,
especially when it comes to the so-called sovereignty portfolios that
include the ministries of defense, interior, foreign affairs and
National Front member Mohammed el-Said Idris urged Morsi to work with
a broader coalition of political forces in order to stand up to the
army, whose generals were appointed by Mubarak.
"We are in an era in which institutions filled with old regime
appointees are the ones in power," he said. "The president should
take the initiative and create a partnership... or else we will reach
a deadlock." (© 2012 The Associated Press 07/28/12)
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