Egypt`s PM-designate pledges `people`s government`

Egypt`s Prime Minister-designate called on Egyptians to rally behind the nation`s newly-elected President in the face of "grave challenges”.

Updated: Aug 03, 2012, 09:56 AM IST

Cairo: Egypt`s Prime Minister-designate on Thursday pledged that his new 35-member Cabinet would be a "people`s government" and called on Egyptians to rally behind it and the nation`s newly-elected President in the face of "grave challenges”.

The US-educated Hesham Kandil also confirmed that Hosni Mubarak`s defence minister of 20 years, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, will retain the post.

Tantawi led the military generals who took over from Mubarak when the president stepped down nearly 18 months following a popular uprising.

The new government, which was sworn in later on Thursday, is the first since Mohammed Mursi, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood leader, was inaugurated as Egypt`s first freely elected President.

The new Cabinet`s line-up appeared aimed at allaying worries that Islamists will monopolise power in the government -- three Brotherhood members were given ministries and several members of the outgoing, military-backed government will retain their posts, including the foreign and finance ministers.

Still, the line-up fell far short of the unity government that Mursi had initially said he would put together, bringing together political factions. Instead, the members were largely technocrats.

And many will be looking to see how many of the new ministers, while not Brotherhood members, are Islamists or sympathetic to the movement to gain a real picture of the government`s diversity.

"We are all Egyptians in the Arab Republic of Egypt. The coming period is not easy, to say the least, and we are all in the same boat," Kandil told a news conference. "This is the people`s government, it does not belong to this or that trend."

The new government comes at a time when tensions are rising over the country`s tenuous security, recent sectarian violence and growing popular discontent over issues such as widespread power and water outages as well as shortages.

The military generals who took over from Mubarak in February 2011 handed over power to Mursi but not before they stripped the new President of significant powers and declared themselves as the country`s legislative authority after dissolving the Brotherhood-dominated Parliament.

The military also has control over the process of drafting Egypt`s new Constitution.

Morsi`s choice of Kandil, a devout Muslim reported by some Egyptian media to be sympathetic to the Brotherhood, has angered the liberals and leftists who launched the uprising against Mubarak. In his 40s, he maintains that he has no formal links to any of the country`s Islamist political parties.