Egypt Swears in New Cabinet, Retains Mubarak-era Ministers

Largest opposition group Muslim Brotherhood claims real power still remains in the hands of Mubarak 'cronies'.

Egypt's key portfolios of defense interior, foreign, finance and justice were unchanged in a cabinet reshuffle, state television confirmed on Tuesday when it broadcast the swearing in ceremony for the new ministers.

The list of new ministers included changing the veteran oil minister, as well as introducing politicians who had been opposed to the rule of Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down from office on February 11 after widespread protests.

tantawi - AP - February 21 2011

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who leads the ruling military council and has been defense minister for about 20 years, took the new ministers' oaths of office.

But the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's biggest opposition group, said the new cabinet showed that Mubarak's "cronies" still controlled the country's politics.

"This new cabinet is an illusion," Brotherhood senior member Essam el-Erian said. "It pretends it includes real opposition but in reality this new government puts Egypt under the tutelage of the West," he added.

"The main defenze, justice, interior and foreign ministries remain unchanged, signaling Egypt's politics remain in the hands of Mubarak and his cronies," Erian said.

Mubarak reshuffled his cabinet shortly after protests erupted on Jan. 25 in a bid to assuage anger against his 30-year rule, but rage continued to build until his ouster on February 11.

The Brotherhood and youth protesters had demanded that all Mubarak's ministers must be changed in the new government sworn in ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections.

The latest reshuffle brought into the cabinet a few opposition figures including Yehia el-Gamal, deputy prime minister, the Wafd party's Mounir Abdel Nour as tourism minister and Tagammu party's Gowdat Abdel-Khaleq as minister of social solidarity and social justice.

Both Wafd and Tagammu had often been close to Mubarak's government.

The Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS) said the government's appointment of Ismail Ibrahim Fahmy as new labor minister showed it continued to "co-opt formal labor unions and the labor ministry," it said in a statement.

Fahmy was the treasurer of the general union for workers syndicates in Egypt. "We warn of the dire consequences of defying the will of the workers and their legitimate right to enjoy union rights," CTUWS said.

Egyptian online democracy activists called for a demonstration on Tuesday to demand the removal of the country's interim government, saying it contains too many old faces.

"The call for the million-man march on Friday would show people's anger and frustration," Erian said.