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Egyptian Press: Cabinet chaos
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 21 - 07 - 2011

Doaa El-Bey sizes up another government reshuffle in Egypt
Newspapers and writers focussed on major pieces of news this week, including the details of the major government reshuffle engineered by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, the reportedly deteriorating health of the deposed president Hosni Mubarak and the results of the thanaweya amma or high school certificate exams. The difficulties facing the Cabinet reshuffle and the opposition to some of the new ministers were the focus of attention of all newspapers throughout the week. Al-Shorouk on Monday bannered, 'The people chose their government', Al-Ahram had on Monday, 'Sharaf forms his government amid opposition from Tahrir Square' and Al-Masry Al-Youm headlined, 'Mubarak in coma'.
Al-Wafd banner on Sunday: 'Surprise results in thanaweya amma ' and Al-Akhbar on Monday said, 'First phase of university applications for thanaweya amma students starts Saturday'.
Eissa Morshed regarded the new government as Sharaf's last chance. Morshed wrote that ever since the ruling army council asked Sharaf to launch a major reshuffle, the demands of the protesters have been on the increase. And that poses further challenges for Sharaf.
The previous government, Morshed explained, dealt with problems in a rather conventional way and failed to draw up plans or set deadlines for its tasks. That government only reacted and failed to take the initiative and act according to the will of the people and the revolution.
However, he added, the reshuffle showed that the new government is willing to meet the demands of the protesters and the people as well. As such, the new ministers are likely to carry out much needed reform.
"Sharaf's choice of ministers reflects the true spirit of the revolution. It is high time to uproot hooliganism and return order to the streets, apply the law everywhere and start purging ministers and institutions of the old regime," Morshed concluded in the official daily Al-Akhbar.
Nabil Rashwan was not as optimistic as Morshed. He started his daily column by wondering why the post-revolution attitude was not serious enough, and why some officials were trying to behave in the same old way by buying time, making minor changes, slowing down trials and exchanging a minister for another who behaves the exact same way.
The followers of Safwat El-Sherif, Rashwan stated in the independent daily Nahdet Masr, are still present in the Ministry of Information and the supporters of former parliament speaker Fathi Sorour are still in parliament and those of Gamal Mubarak in banks and other economic institutions.
Rashwan called for genuine change and a new government in the full sense of the word, a government that is efficient and whose ministers are young and have vision and unconventional solutions to problems.
"We need a government that provides solutions for problems like unemployment, poverty and illness. We need clear plans from every minister. We need ministers from the people and who feel for the people and not ministers who spend the summer holidays in Marina and the winter holidays in Sharm El-Sheikh."
Ahmed El-Semman wrote that the reshuffle reflected a clear change in priorities. The priorities of the government are to bridge the rift between the people and the police, purge the Interior Ministry and focus on regional files including the Nile water issue, Palestinian reconciliation and developments in Sudan.
In the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm El-Semman said the old government contained contradictory political trends which did not necessarily represent all political groups. It had ministers from the extreme left and extreme right, revolutionary ministers and ministers who were convinced that it was important to keep the status quo in order to get past the present phase. That's why many people were left with the impression that the old government did not make any changes on the ground.
El-Semman wrote that many ministries are paralysed because their heads are reluctant to take any decision for fear of meeting the same fate as previous ministers facing an investigation and trials.
All these factors and others forced a major reshuffle which aimed to form a government that does not work according to the priorities of the present phase, but according to the priorities of the revolution to achieve democracy, freedom and social and legal justice, El-Semman concluded.
Mohamed Mustafa Sherdi expected more Cabinet reshuffles in the future not only because of the end of the era of political stagnation, but also because people will always ask for change and quick achievements. However, he wrote a reshuffle would not necessarily lead to success because the latter involves group work according to a clear vision.
"Thus, the new government shouldn't act as a caretaker government but an executive government. And there are many jobs that are waiting to be done in ministries and institutions," Sherdi wrote in Al-Wafd, the mouthpiece of the opposition Wafd Party.
Sherdi called on the new government to avoid the mistakes of the previous government and to ask for the help of experts and specialised institutions because first it will not be able to resolve all the problems on its own and second because this is the way to involve as many parties as possible in decision-making.
He also pointed to the fact that, at present, Egypt is in need of a revolution in thinking and courage in dealing with problems and a more active role for the millions of government employees. We are in no need of employees who wait for orders from their boss; we need employees who take the initiative and make decisions, Sherdi ended his back page daily column.
The editorial of the official daily Al-Ahram said that three important missions await Sharaf's new government in order to pass the present phase. The first mission is to restore security and stability. After the latest major changes in the Interior Ministry, it is high time for the ministry to work at full capacity to restore security to the citizen. Additionally, the editorial added, civil society organisations need to cooperate with all sectors of the Interior Ministry to reinstate the police.
Second, the new government needs to create the atmosphere needed to stabilise the economy and attract internal as well as foreign investment. Third, it should cooperate with the ruling military council and political powers to prepare for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
"Sharaf's new government will need to cooperate with all political powers in order to combat the present challenges and carry out its job," the edit stated.

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