Egypt’s new Cabinet was sworn in today by the country’s newly elected President, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The swearing-in ceremony took place in the capital, Cairo, and state television aired live footage from the swearing-in inside the presidential palace.
The government of about 30 ministers – including four women and several technocrats – is led by Prime Minister, Ibrahim Mehleb, who also served as the interim premier for the past five months. He was the second person to fill the post since el-Sissi ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, last July, following massive protests against the Islamist leader and his Muslim Brotherhood. Mehleb was asked by el-Sissi to return to the post.
It’s also the first Cabinet under El-Sissi, the country’s former army chief and defense minister who himself was sworn in as president earlier in June, following his landslide election victory last month. El-Sissi has pledged to put security and restoring the country’s battered economy at the top of his agenda. He has also vowed to build a more stable future after three turbulent years since the ouster of longtime autocrat, Hosni Mubarak.
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El-Sissi has also said there will be no tolerance for those who took up arms against the government and Egyptians – a thinly veiled reference to Morsi’s supporters. Since Morsi’s removal, his supporters have held near- daily demonstrations, which have been met by a fierce crackdown by security forces that has killed hundreds and arrested thousands. Morsi and many of the top Brotherhood leaders have been jailed and are on a series of trials, mostly in connection to violence associated with the protests.
For the first time, the Cabinet doesn’t include the Information Ministry, the government body that for decades has overseen state media, keeping them to a close government line supporting official policies and rallying support for the leadership.The move is in line with the newly adopted constitution, which calls for an “independent institution” to regulate media and the press.
After Mubarak’s 2011 ouster, activists and free media advocates called for abolishing the ministry and state media. The transitional military council that took power after Mubarak’s removal initially agreed to the move, but then reinstated the ministry. Egypt’s new parliament – which is to be elected within months – has a mandate to pass legislation that will regulate the work of the new media body.