CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood on Monday voiced its strongest criticism yet of Egypt’s army-appointed government, saying it was failing to deal with crises in security and the economy, and reiterating a call for a new national unity cabinet.
The Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood’s political wing and the biggest group in the newly elected parliament, also stated its opposition to the government’s request for a new World Bank loan.
"Egypt is suffering from escalating economic and security crises which confirm the failure of the government," the FJP said in a wide-ranging statement on domestic and foreign policy issues. "There is a desire that has become clear to export more crises to any future government."
Brotherhood leaders have this month made repeated calls for a new coalition government representing the parties in parliament. The existing cabinet is led by Prime Minister Kamal Al-Ganzouri, a 79-year-old who served in the post under Hosni Mubarak and was appointed by the military council in November.
Ganzouri is due to stay in office until mid-year, the end of the period of interim rule being overseen by the generals due to hand power to an elected president at the end of June.
Although the Brotherhood has said it will not contest the presidency, the lengthy FJP statement underlined the group’s desire for a strong say over government in the post-Mubarak era.
With more than 43 percent of the seats in parliament, the Brotherhood is the biggest of the parties that emerged from Egypt’s most democratic elections in six decades — a result of the popular uprising that swept Mubarak from power a year ago.
Founded in 1928, the group was banned under Mubarak but has moved to the heart of public life since he was ousted. Local media reports have named Khairat Shater, the deputy head of the Brotherhood, as a possible candidate for prime minister.
On foreign borrowing, the FJP stated its respect for all international institutions but said it renewed "its rejection of the government’s insistence on borrowing from the World Bank".
The World Bank said on Feb. 2 Egypt had asked for a $1 billion loan and it would launch talks with government representatives to iron out the details.
"The party sees that searching for pain killers to treat economic problems raises many questions," the FJP said.
"We have many financial resources upon which we can rely before resorting to external borrowing, be it from the World Bank or others."
There was no mention of the $3.2 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which Egypt’s finance minister has said the government will sign next month.
The loan would be paid in three installments, the first as soon as the agreement is signed, he added.
Egypt had turned down the loan last year, saying it did not want to add to its foreign debt, but reconsidered as its economy plummeted and much of the promised aid from Arab and Western donors did not materialise.
The FJP also criticized the government for failing to reform the Interior Ministry, an institution whose reputation for brutality under Mubarak helped fuel the uprising.
Citing increased crime rates, the FJP said there was the need for "real cleansing in this important institution".