Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s new prime minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, has reappointed a number of ministers to their former positions following the surprise resignation of the Hazem El-Beblawi government on Monday. Egypt’s state run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that at least 15 cabinet ministers would keep their posts, including Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou.
The Beblawi-era ministers who will keep their post in the Mahlab government also include Local Development Minister Adel Labib, Planning and International Cooperation Minister Ashraf El-Araby, Communications Minister Atef Helmy, Agriculture Minister Ayman Abu Hadid, Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf El-Din, Education Minister Mahmoud Abul-Nasr, Transitional Justice Minister Mohamed Amin El-Mahdy, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, Trade Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail, Youth and Sports Minister Khaled Abdel-Aziz and Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa.
There was no official word on whether Egypt’s powerful defense chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi would remain as defense minister, although most reports said he would keep his ministerial portfolio despite speculation that the cabinet resignation could serve as a prelude to his announcing a long-expected presidential bid.
According to state TV, Mahlab appointed a senior supplies ministry official, Khaled Hanafi, as Minister of Supply and Internal Trade. He replaces Mohamed Abu Shadi, who had come in for strong public criticism for his performance in the Beblawi government. Egypt’s Trade Ministry has been restructured and merged with the Investment Ministry, with Abdel Nour keeping his post as head of the consolidated ministry.
It is not yet known whether Mahlab intends to reappoint Samir Radwan as finance minister, nor who he will appoint to take over the housing ministry that he led during the Beblawi government.
In his first comments following his reappointment as Religious Endowments Minister, Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa pledged to continue the work that he started under the Beblawi premiership.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I will confront with all my power those who call for extremism and violence and I will work to promote moderation and improve the state of mosque imams across the country.”
Following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013, Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments has led a campaign to keep politics out of mosques, taking control of several mosques that had been under control of the Islamist group and shutting down illegal unregistered Zawya, or corner, mosques.
Gomaa added: “We will work to improve the state of preaching in mosques . . . to confront extremist ideology and to disseminate the correct interpretation of Islam throughout Egypt.”
Speaking following his appointment as prime minister on Tuesday, Mahlab said combatting terrorism would be a priority for his government. “We will work together to restore security and safety to Egypt and crush terrorism in all corners of the country,” he said.
Doing so “will pave the way for investment,” Mahlab added.