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The Cabinet dilemma

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Sara Abou Bakr

Sara Abou Bakr

The newly appointed Egyptian prime minister is currently undergoing the most difficult part of his job: forming the Cabinet.

Hazem El-Beblawi was not the choice of the Egyptian youth. Close to 77 years old, he is far from the young visionary or the “revolutionary” that the predominantly youthful nation yearned for.

When state-owned agencies broke the news that the opposition head, Moahmed ElBaradei, was to become the new Prime Minister, the decision was met with jubilation among most political groups, young and old. Despite his age and political blunders in the last two years, ElBaradei is viewed by many as the “Godfather of the Egyptian revolution”. The Salafi Al-Nour party went into a frenzy fit of an 18th century Victorian maiden, spouting objections to the clearly “liberal” choice. The presidency backed down and a day later the young Ziad Bahaa El-Din, well-known in the financial circuits was nominated. The choice was hailed. Again Al-Nour Party objected, nominating two remnants of the Mubarak regime and another who is 90 years old. All were met with the opposition of young people.

The presidency settled on El-Beblawi in an attempt to pacify all sides of the political spectrum, raising the question: what is the exact leverage that the Al-Nour Party has?  The leaders of this party did not participate in January 25th Revolution, demonised many young protesters throughout the past two years and most noticeably did not participate in 30 June demonstrations that ousted Morsi. Also, on the street level, this party has lost much power as many Egyptians are currently experiencing an aversion to political Islam. Currently, Al-Nour is successfully playing the role of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in undermining any true attempt to successfully implement the demands of the January 25th Revolution. This will be more evident when the committee to amend the mutilated 2012 constitution, written by right-wing pseudo Islamists, begins its work. Already many are wondering: when will the ban on religious-based parties be put into effect?

Thus, El-Beblawi remains a current fact of life.

The next cabinet is crucial for the lives of Egyptians. Following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, people were looking forward to a visionary government that would meet their needs. Hesham Qandil’s government disappointed and impoverished them further.

El-Beblawi’s cabinet has to learn from previous mistakes, mainly the lack of transparency. If they do not communicate clearly with the public, they will lose ground.

The first hurdle confronting the cabinet is the ministry of interior; the main reason for the uprising against Mubarak. Reports have been leaked suggesting that the current minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, is to remain in office.  First mistake…check.

Ibrahim is hated by young people and police officers alike. His brutal tactics against peaceful protesters have been documented by several human rights organisations. Several activists were found beaten and tortured-sometimes to death- during his Brotherhood-backed reign.   He upheld the same methodology of the Mubarak regime, without any real reformation, just cosmetic procedures when it came to dealing with the media. Several testimonies can be found of arrests without warrants as well as the return of the “night visitors”; raids arresting people in the middle of the night in the same manner used as under the emergency law.

His extreme loyalty to the Brotherhood was clear in many cases, mainly in sending troops to protect their headquarters, irking people and officers alike. My sources inside the ministry told me of their resentment of being put in confrontation with protesters repeatedly. Ibrahim was captured on video being thrown out of the funeral of one of the officers who died in Port Said in January by fellow officers. Others spoke publicly against him, risking their livelihoods.

This ministry needs a new system that clearly outlines the duties and rights of the officers and citizens which requires legal and humanitarian minds to collaborate. Something highly unlikely with Ibrahim. A man from inside the ministry with an impeccable reputation is needed for this post. Just like the current prosecutor general was chosen from the obscure halls of the judiciary, the new minister of interior should follow suit.

Otherwise the demonstrations on the side of the people and violations on the side of the officers will continue. And if there is not any security, there won’t be new investments which lead to the next point.

The Egyptian economy has been suffering severely over the past two and a half years. People are looking forward to a visionary plan for the economy. El-Beblawi’s financial background should be put to use. However, the aim of this cabinet should be social justice and not merely capitalist goals. Each plan should serve all sectors of society with the trickledown effect of new investments reaching the poorest, to avoid the mistakes of both Mubarak and the Brotherhood which served only a segment of society, namely well-known business men.

Tourism is the livelihood of many. Security is needed to bring in tourists and to prod the different embassies to lift their “red alerts” and “travel bans”. Many young Egyptians are willing to donate time and knowledge to help market tourism in Egypt once stabilised. If the new cabinet issues a competition targeting youth-not PR firms-to come up with a Tourism Marketing Campaign for Egypt, I do believe the creativity levels we witnessed in Tahrir Square will be put into good use.

To build a prospering nation, education is essential. There is a rumour circling the Cabinet halls that Al-Nour Party wants this ministry, which is very smart on their part. The formation of young minds in the next 20 years is what will set the Egyptian path.  Once the dust settles, the education ministry will prove to be by far the most important of them all. Ensuring balanced curricula while improving the conditions of public schools is a daunting mission that requires innovation and long-term plans.

The next cabinet will set the pace for the next six months until Egyptians elect their new president, a really difficult mission.

It is the building block for the coming government thus the responsibility is monumental. It can show Egyptians that an inclusive government can be a success without the manipulation of religion to become a milestone in Egyptian history.

Or it can fail miserably.

About the author

Sara Abou Bakr

Politics editor at Daily News Egypt Twitter: @sara_ab5


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