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Thursday 23 March 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Amr Nabil/AP/Press Association Images Anti-Mubarak graffiti in Tahrir Square, Cairo.
# Egypt
Meet Egypt's new government... it won't be around for long
Elections are expected later this year but those who helped oust Hosni Mubarak want change to happen faster.

THE HEAD OF the military council ruling Egypt swore in a new Cabinet yesterday under pressure from protesters demanding faster change and a weeding out of those tied to the ousted regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

The new government led by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf features 12 new faces and two deputy prime ministers. Thirteen other members kept their jobs. The Cabinet is not expected to remain in office for more than four months, with parliamentary elections slated for October or November.

Tension has been rising in Egypt over what many perceive as the army’s reluctance to act against the former regime. A few hundred protesters have been camping out in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square — the epicenter of the uprising that ended Mubarak’s rule on 11 February — to try to keep up pressure on the military council ruling the country.

Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, told the new Cabinet on Thursday that its job was to restore security, prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections and oversee the writing of a new constitution.

Interests of the nation

He also told them to support the courts that are trying members and associates of Mubarak’s regime for corruption — a nod to those who complain that such trials have been slow in coming.

In comments quoted by the state news agency MENA, he told the new Cabinet to serve “the high interests of the nation, achieve the hopes and aspirations of the people and move Egypt rom this difficult stage to a more stable, flourishing stage.”

Activists welcomed some aspects of the new Cabinet, but didn’t expect it to be a powerful force for change since the military still has to sign off on anything it does.

Not a government of revolution

“This is not a government of the revolution in any way,” said Shadi Ghazaly Harb, a protest leader during the uprising who has founded a new political party. “This is a caretaker government and I expect from it the same weak performance we saw from the last government.”

Sharaf addressed such criticisms in a address to the nation aired on state TV late Thursday.

“I and the members of the last government know well that the level of performance may not have been at the level that people hope for,” he said. “We promise that in the next stage well revise these issues.”

Sharaf said his government’s priorities were to bring back security, help Egyptians meet their basic needs, push for trials for corrupt officials and those who killed protesters and achieve a full “democratic transformation.”

The swearing-in was scheduled for Tuesday, but it was postponed when the prime minister went to the hospital for exhaustion. He checked out the next day.

End of Mubarak

The Cabinet contains a new foreign minister, Mohammed Kamel Amru. His predecessor held his job for only a few weeks.

In a move likely to upset protesters, Interior Minister Mansour el-Issawi kept his job. Protesters have been calling for his removal, saying he has not done enough to reform the police and security forces.

The Cabinet no longer contains an antiquities minister, a position recently held by Zahi Hawass, who campaigned for repatriation of Egyptian antiques from European museums and was criticised for boosting his own career at the expense of younger archaeologists.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities will now run Egypt’s historical sites and report to the prime minister’s office.

Also Wednesday, an Egyptian court ruled that Mubarak’s name will not be removed from public institutions.

Egyptians have removed the names of Mubarak and his wife Suzanne from hundreds of public facilities like libraries, schools and subway stations. Thursday’s ruling will not restore them.

The ruling overturned one that handed down a lower court, saying the court had lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case. It will be transferred to an administrative court.

- AP

Read: Egypt uses Facebook to gauge presidential popularity >

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