Egypt's President faces backlash from allies
Cairo: An alliance of pro-democracy advocates on Saturday criticised 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 Mursi has reneged on campaign promises to form a national unity government.
On Tuesday, Mursi surprised the country by choosing an unknown technocrat and former water minister, Hesham Kandil, as his prime minister. Many advocates see Kandil, a US-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.
Labour strikes are widespread.
Mursi picked Kandil a month after assuming his post as Egypt's first elected civilian President. Observers say the delay reflected hesitation by Mursi and his group the Muslim Brotherhood to reach out to strong consensus figures.
In a news conference, the Front said Mursi'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, Mursi, 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 today 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 Mursi's Brotherhood, an ultraconservative Muslim Salafist bloc, and pools of technocrats with no clear political affiliation.