Mohamed Morsi’s choice of prime minister confirms Egyptian fears

Magdi Abdelhadi writes: Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, has lived up to the worst expectations of him. He may be an experienced old cadre in the Muslim Brotherhood and a dogged parliamentarian, but his choice of prime minister confirms what many suspected: he lacks imagination and flare.

Worse still, he did not seem to have the guts to make a clean break with the old establishment. Perhaps he couldn’t. He has picked a minister from the outgoing cabinet for the post. This being the same cabinet he and his Islamist Justice and Freedom party campaigned against for months, but failed to force from office through a vote of no confidence.

If this is the best he could come up with after weeks of consultations, there’s little reason to get excited about who the new prime minister might select for his cabinet in what was supposed to be Egypt’s first “revolutionary government”.

One way in which Hisham Kandil has made history is by being the youngest man to hold the position of prime minister in the history of Egypt. Another first is that he sports a salafi beard. His facial hair has sparked speculation over whether he is in fact a closet Muslim Brother. But those who harbour such fears forget that the Brothers’ conservative ideology, along with the beard, had become mainstream in Egypt long before the revolution.

Kandil has already said he will keep some ministers from the outgoing government. Few believe it is actually him calling the shots. It’s out of the question that he will choose a new defence minister for example. That post will most likely be kept by the septuagenarian Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who has been the not-so-much-behind-the scenes effective ruler of the country since the overthrow of Mubarak last year.

Many will be watching who gets picked to lead the second branch of the coercive machinery of the state, the interior ministry. If Kandil recycles an old police general, then Egypt will be firmly on track to reproduce the old policies that failed to solve its myriad problems, when they weren’t directly contributing to them. [Continue reading…]

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