Opposition groups in Egypt are planning a large rally on Friday to protest the high number of Mubarak-connected politicians in the country’s newly-reshuffled cabinet.
James Auger, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, commented that while Egyptian army continues to stress its commitment to a democratic transition, “the line-up of ministers in the new
cabinet includes many familiar faces from the old regime.”
On Tuesday, the country’s ruling military council appointed a cabinet that was designed to reduce the presence of lawmakers deemed loyal to the ouster President Hosni Mubarak, as a concession to activists.
Eleven new ministers were named to the cabinet, including some opposition figures as well as two Coptic Christians. (Under Mubarak’s rule, all Cabinet members came from his ruling National Democratic Party).
However, a number of Mubarak loyalists remain in power, including Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Justice Minister Mamdouh Marei.
The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, among other opposition groups, demand the removal of all cabinet members connected to Mubarak.
The main ministries of defense, justice, interior and foreign remain unchanged, signaling Egypt's politics remain in the hands of Mubarak and his cronies, senior Brotherhood member Essam el-Erian told Reuters.
“The army is treading a tightrope as it seeks to institute an effective interim government while simultaneously acknowledging the political earthquake that has struck the country and the new-found power of opposition groups,” Auger said.
The Brotherhood also demands the removal of emergency law (which was imposed in 1981 following the assassination of President Anwar Sadat) and the release of many political prisoners.
The changes to the cabinet, such as they are, are paving the way for civilian rule through a new election in six months, as promised by the military.
“However, to achieve this peacefully, [the army] needs to work harder to reassure opposition groups that genuine political change is coming,” Auger warned.
“The Muslim Brotherhood… has demanded that the cabinet is purged of the old regime’s ministers, but the army has indicated that it does not anticipate further changes.”
The army faces an enormous challenge running the country effectively while also delivering on the huge expectations generated by the revolution, Auger added.
“The inclusion of so many old faces in the new cabinet has sent out a worrying signal for opposition groups, and there may yet have to be a rethink if this week’s protests attain the same kind of scale seen during Mubarak’s ouster,” he noted.
“[However] from an investor perspective, assuming the protests do not cause renewed instability, the inclusion of experienced, known figures in the government offers some reassurance over effective governance and policy continuity.”