President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi swore in Egypt’s new cabinet early Tuesday morning, to include 14 new ministers and increasing the number of portfolios from 31 to 34.
The revised cabinet has thirteen new faces, with Laila Iskander moving from her previous post as Minister of Environment to the newly created Ministry of Urban Development.
Former Ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry replaces Nabil Fahmy as Foreign Minister. Fahmy had held the post since the formation of the first interim cabinet after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Changes in the new formation:
The formation of new ministerial portfolios saw the removal of the Ministry of Information, and the creation of the Ministry of Urban Development. Three ministries were split, bringing the total number of ministries to 34.
The Ministry of Scientific Research was split from the Ministry of Higher Education, and the Ministry of Investment was split from the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The Ministry of International Cooperation is now a separate ministry from the Ministry of Planning.
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Sameh Shoukry
Sameh Shoukry, born in 1952, obtained a law degree from Ain Shams University in 1975 and joined the foreign ministry the following year.
Shoukry’s most recent posting saw him serve as Egypt’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-2012, before which he served as Egypt’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva for three years.
His first overseas appointment was in London in 1978 where he served as third secretary. In 1995 Shoukry was made secretary for information under former President Hosni Mubarak.
Shoukry takes over the ministry from another former ambassador to the US, Nabil Fahmy, who decided to change the direction of Egypt’s foreign policy when he was appointed after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Fahmy’s vision was to realign Egypt “in its rightful place as a country of Arab identity and African roots”. He also sought to diversify Egypt’s international relations engaging more with African countries and, most notably, strengthening ties with Russia.
The foreign ministry is currently engaged in a number of regional and international issues, which Shoukry will take over. Most imminently is the 41st session for the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Wednesday in Jeddah where Arab foreign ministers are expected to meet on the sidelines to discuss the situation in Iraq.
Egypt’s relations with Africa is an issue Fahmy worked hard to repair after the African Union’s Peace and Security Council suspended Egypt’s activities following Morsi’s removal. The African Union High Level Panel for Egypt is expected to present its final report on Egypt’s transition on Tuesday, according to the foreign ministry.
Shoukry will also have to coordinate with the newly appointed Minister of Water and Irrigation on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Egypt fears will have a detrimental impact on its share of Nile water.
Minister of Water and Irrigation: Hossam El-Din Moghazy
Born in Cairo in 1960, Hossam El-Din Moghazy graduated with honours from Alexandria University with an engineering degree and a Masters degree in groundwater hydrology from Wadi Natrun in 1985 before gaining a doctorate from the University of London in 1990 for his thesis on the optimal design of wells to exploit groundwater in arid regions.
He worked as a professor at Alexandria University in 2000, specialising in Irrigation and Hydraulics, and was made head of the Irrigation engineering department in 2010.
Moghazy’s work has appeared in more than 40 publications relating to engineering, groundwater irrigation, drainage and protection of the aquatic environment.
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has been involved in the talks over the building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Egypt sees as a threat to its share of the Nile Water. The ministry has also been working on developing irrigation in agricultural areas to improve production.
Minister of Antiquities: Mamdouh Al-Damaty
Born in 1961 in Cairo, Mamdouh Al-Damaty gained his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Cairo University and gained his doctorate on the topic of Sokar-Osiris Chapel in the Temple of Dendera.
He has headed the Antiquities department at Ain Shams University since 2006 and in June 2010 he received the State Award for Excellence for Social Sciences form the Ministry of Culture.
The Ministry of Antiquities has been intensifying efforts to prevent smuggling and the subsequent sale of artefacts abroad as well as the preservation of Egypt’s historical sites, including the Pyramids of Giza.
Al-Damaty’s predecessor, Mohamed Ibrahim, welcomed the new appointment and wished his successor well and encouraged the employees of the ministry to support him.
Minister of Culture: Gaber Asfour
Gaber Asfour is a writer, poet and literary critic. He was born in Cairo in 1944, has been a professor at many Arab and European universities and was President of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Culture.
In 2008 UNESCO awarded him the Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture (totalling $30,000).
He was a member of the now banned National Democratic Party and was appointed Minister of Culture by former President Hosni Mubarak on 29 January 2011, amidst protests that toppled the former president. He resigned a week later objecting to the policies of the cabinet, led by Ahmed Shafiq at that time.
Minister of Justice: Mahfouz Saber
Head of the Mansoura Court of Appeals, Judge Mahfouz Saber has replaced Nayer Othman as Minister of Justice. Occupying the position of deputy justice minister for judicial inspection when former Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki was in office, Saber resigned from his position after Mekki was replaced by Ahmed Seliman in April 2013 during Morsi’s reign.
He was appointed as head of the Alexandria court of Appeals and scheduled to take up post starting July.
Saber is known for taking disciplinary measures against members of the Judges for Egypt group, a group of judges known for their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood. Saber, serving as head of the judges’ disciplinary committee, sent a number of Judges for Egypt members to retirement after accusing them of taking part in political activities.
Saber was a member of the Supreme Electoral Commission founded in August 2011 to overlook the coming elections. He was also the secretary general of the Supreme Electoral Commission which overlooked the 2010 parliamentary elections, whose results are known to have been rigged.
Minister of Higher Education: Al-Sayed Abdel Khaleq
Political Economy Professor Al-Sayed Abdel Khaleq occupied the post of chairman of Mansoura University since November 2011 before Mehleb appointed him as Minister of Higher Education in his new cabinet. He formerly served as the dean of Mansoura University’s Faculty of Law since 2007.
Abdel Khaleq replaces Wael El-Degwi, who served as Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Mehleb’s previous cabinet.
The Ministry of Higher Education has faced serious challenges during the past academic year, especially with the rise of the pro Morsi-Students Against the Coup movement. The academic year has proven to be the deadliest in decades, with over a dozen students killed amid clashes around university campuses.
Securing university campus will be one of Abdel Khaleq’s top challenges. The Supreme Council of Universities signed in February a protocol with the Ministry of Interior to secure university campuses. The protocol authorised security forces to be present outside universities and only interfere on campuses with the permission of university chairmen.
Abdel Khaleq also has to address the issue of setting minimum wages for university staff and faculty, a pending issue for the past year and a half.
Minister of Scientific Research: Sherif Hammad
Mehleb split up the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research into two separate ministries. Sherif Hammad, appointed to head the newly-split ministry of Scientific Research, was elected as the dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Ain Shams University in February 2012.
Minister of Transitional Justice and Parliamentary Affairs: Ibrahim Al-Heneidi
Replacing Amin Al-Mahdi, Mehleb appointed Ibrahim Al-Heneidi as Minister of Transitional Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. Al-Heneidi served as deputy justice minister for illicit gains affairs under former Justice Minister Adel Abdel Hameed since July 2013.
As head of the Illicit Gains Authority, Al-Heneidi replaced 14 judges in the authority last September. He also ordered last March the referral of Mubarak-era Foreign Trade and Industry Minister Rasheed Mohamed Rasheed to the criminal court alongside his daughter, on charges of embezzlement.
In May, the Illicit Gains Authority, operating under Al-Heneidi, referred its investigations into accusations raised against Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, to the military prosecution, citing Shafiq’s military background.
The Ministry of Transitional Justice was created by first cabinet sworn in after Morsi’s ouster last July to achieve transitional justice after mass uprisings, in January 2011 and June 2013, succeeded in overthrowing two presidents.
Twenty ministers retained their posts, including Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim, who was first appointed by Morsi in January 2013. Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi also continues in his post, which he assumed after Al-Sisi resigned as defence minister to launch his presidential campaign.
Minister of Interior: Mohamed Ibrahim
Ibrahim will continue as Minister of Interior, having been appointed in January 2013 by former Prime Minister Hesham Qandil during the rule of President Mohamed Morsi. Ibrahim has led the Ministry of Interior in a period that has seen a wide crackdown on Morsi’s supporters and the Muslim Brotherhood. The ministry has said it aims to secure the streets and combat terrorism, which has largely targeted security installations and personnel. Domestic and international groups have repeatedly accused the ministry of using excessive force.
Ibrahim took office just before the wave of protests which swept the country during the second anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. Opposition figures suggested he was appointed to repress anti-Muslim-Brotherhood protests.
Minister of Health: Adel Al-Adawi
Upon replacing former Health Minister Maha Rabat in February, Adel Al-Adawi was faced a strike orchestrated by the Doctors’ Syndicate, whose latest wave started in January. Doctors have for years been calling for reforms to Egypt’s crumbling healthcare system.
On 9 May, the Doctors’ Syndicate decided to suspend the doctors’ strike following an emergency meeting, adding that their gains are the maximum that could have been achieved under the country’s “extremely difficult” conditions. The suspension followed extensive meetings and negotiations with the Ministry of Health. Striking syndicate members commended Al-Adawi for being more cooperative than his predecessor and for supporting the doctors’ demands.
Al-Adawi also had to deal with a malaria outbreak which occurred in Egypt’s southernmost governorate, Aswan, in late May.
Minister of Education: Mahmoud Abou El-Nasr
Abou El-Nasr had to face the multiple reports of cheating during the Certificate of General Secondary Education’s final exams, which started two weeks ago. The Ministry of Interior reported last week the arrest of a student responsible for a social media page which allegedly leaks exam answers.
On Friday, Abou El-Nasr issued a decision which stipulates that any student found in possession of a mobile phone while sitting through his exam would be referred to investigation.
Abou El-Nasr has also contributed to outlining measures to address the highly proliferating phenomenon of sexual harassment and sexual assault after a video of a woman facing mob sexual assault in Tahrir Square went viral last week. The Ministry of Education pledged to prepare studies and recommendations of education’s role in stopping sexual harassment.
Minister of Religious Endowments: Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa
Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa will remain as Minister of Endowments, having been appointed by former interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi in July 2013. The ministry has taken steps to regulate activities in Mosques recently, by urging people to limit prayer to formal mosques and enforcing regulations that would control the Friday orations and limiting them to preachers certified by the ministry.
The ministry created a law that regulates religious speeches and lectures in mosques and was ratified at the start of June by former interim President Adly Mansour before handing power over to Al-Sisi.
Gomaa has authored a number of books on religion and has been a member of the Journalism Syndicate for over 40 years. Prior to accepting this position, Gomaa was Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies at the prestigious Al-Azhar University, where he was a member of the senior clerical institute.
Other ministers who remain in Mehleb’s new cabinet include: Minister of Manpower Nahed Al-Ashry, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali, Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel Aziz and Minister for Military Production Ibrahim Younis.
The new cabinet is headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb, who was reappointed by Al-Sisi after he resigned as interim Prime Minister following the former defence minister’s inauguration as President.