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Egyptian cabinet takes shape - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader of the National Salvation Front, center left, shakes hands with interim President Adly Mansour after being sworn in as vice president in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, July 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)

In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, pro-democracy leader Mohamed El-Baradei, a leader of the National Salvation Front, center left, shakes hands with interim president Adly Mansour after being sworn in as vice president in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday, July 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s interim prime minister, Hazem El-Beblawi, put the finishing touches to Egypt’s new government on Sunday.

The new cabinet will be sworn in before Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, on Wednesday. Egypt’s new vice-president for foreign affairs, the former UN diplomat and opposition leader Mohamed El-Baradei, took his oath of office at the presidential palace in Heliopolis in east Cairo on Sunday.

An informed parliamentary source told Asharq Al-Awsat: “[Among those] who met with Dr. Beblawi and accepted opportunities for ministerial positions were Dr. Nabil Fahmy, Egypt’s former ambassador to the United States, [who will become] minister of foreign affairs; Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, minister of awqaf (religious endowments); Dr. Ahmed El-Borai, minister of solidarity and social justice; Dr. Munir Fakhri Abdel Nour, minister of investment; Kamal Abu Eita, minister of manpower; Mohamed Amin Al-Abasi Al-Mahdi, minister of justice; Dr. Ahmed Jalal, minister of finance; [and] Hisham Zazoua will continue his position as minister of tourism.”

Two women, Doria Sharaf Al-Din and Inas Abd Al-Dayim, will join the cabinet as minister of information and minister of culture respectively.

The appointments came as the interim presidency announced that a national reconciliation process will begin this week, in an attempt to reconcile Egypt’s divided and polarized political factions, and make progress on a “roadmap” drawn up by the country’s military to create a new civilian government, following the army’s toppling of deposed president Mohamed Mursi at the beginning of July.

Ahmad Maslamani, a presidential media adviser, said that the presidency “will call for the opening session of national reconciliation very soon.”

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, is to meet with Maslamani this week to discuss the committee that will oversee the process, and which is planned to include representatives from Al-Azhar, the Coptic Church, the Tamarod (Rebellion) movement and youths from Islamic groups, as well as various political parties.

The Grand Imam said that his decision to accept the supervision of the committee came on the condition the committee would have sufficient powers to make involvement in it worthwhile, and that its decisions are binding on all parties.

Dr. Mahmoud Azab, an adviser to Dr. Tayeb, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the invitation of Dr. Tayeb to the reconciliation process was to “ensure the unity and integrity of the community.”

He added that Al-Azhar would strive to be impartial, and that it “will endeavour to reunite the parties and bring together those who have shed blood.”

The National Salvation Front, an alliance of left-wing and liberal parties, is reported to have decided to appoint three of its leaders to conduct dialogue on its behalf: Hamdeen Sabahi, founder of the Egyptian Popular Current and former presidential candidate, El-Sayyid El-Badawi, the president of Al-Wafd Party, and Sameh Ashour, chairman of the Bar.

Elsewhere, the Muslim Brotherhood, the backers of ousted president Mohamed Mursi, refused to join the new government, and called on its members and supporters to continue their protests for his release and restoration to office.

In a move which may presage further violence, the movement said it would attempt to occupy public spaces, including Tahrir Square, where opponents of both Hosni Mubarak and Mursi rallied in the tens of thousands.

To date, dozens have been killed in sporadic clashes between the two sides, and between Brotherhood-linked protestors and the armed forces.

Several prominent members of the organization have also had their assets frozen by the Egyptian authorities, ostensibly as part of charges against senior members of the Brotherhood for incitement to violence during the peak of the protests against Mursi, an investigation that has seen a large number of arrest warrants issued.

London’s Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday that representatives of the Brotherhood had taken part in negotiations with the Egyptian army in a bid to reconcile it to Mursi’s departure from power. However, the newspaper reported that the two sides were unable to the bridge their differences.