As the elections for the Upper House of the Egyptian parliament go ahead slowly and with low participation rates, the Muslim Brotherhood announced their willingness to form the next government, and even prepared a list of candidates for top government positions.
According to a document publicized on Wednesday in the Egyptian media, the man up for the role of prime minister is the engineer Khairat Al Shater, deputy of the General Guide – the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He will be joined in the administration by 16 ministers, who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and who would hold portfolios including foreign affairs, housing, economy, tourism and health. According to the list, the education portfolio will go to the Salafi Al Nour party, if it agrees to join a coalition government.
Meanwhile, the heads of the party announced that their central conditions for joining a coalition is that the military budget be subject to parliamentary control, a condition which the military is opposed to, and which it is unlikely that the Muslim Brotherhood insist upon. The defense and military industry portfolio will be in the hands of the military representative, which will most probably be General Mohamed Al Assar, who is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. The interior affairs portfolio, which also includes home security, will go to someone who is not a member of the Islamist movement.
62-year-old Khairat Al Shater, who is up for heading the government, is also a very active businessman, though of as the Finance Minister of the Muslim Brotherhood movement before the revolution. According to estimates, under former president Hosni Mubarak he held a personal fortune of 250 million Egyptian pounds – about $44 million – but most of his importance lies in deals he carried out on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf States and investments in stock markets around the world. Al Shater, a systems engineer who studies in England, also ammassed considerable funds for the movement from trade fairs dealing with construction material, that worked exclusively with the association of engineers and doctors in Egypt, which has over a million members.
These fairs offered cheap building materials that could be paid for in installments, and acted as a channel of funding for youths who could not get access to bank credit. In the 1990s, Al Shater set up a computer company called Salsabil which ran purchase, sale, and service systems, but the Egyptian government caught on to it, claiming they seized dozens of disks and documents containing a lot of information, both open and encrypted, on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Shater was put on trial and served with a five year prison sentence. On his release, he was appointed second deputy of the leader of the movement.
Last month, Al Shater announced that the Muslim Brotherhood is committed to the Camp David Accords. We have a commitment to all agreements that Egyptian governments have signed and not just to the Camp David Accords, but also to agreements over the sale of gas and oil that were signed by the government, and not by private individuals.
Al Shater has already met with senior U.S. government officials and asked for American help to rehabilitate Egypts economy. In an interview published by the Washington Post last Saturday, he warned that Egypt is on the verge of economic and political collapse and the West must protect the country through diplomatic and economic aid. Egypt, according to him, is liable to pass from the revolution of democracy to the revolution of the hungry if it does not receive foreign aid.
The Egyptian government is currently negotiating loans to the tune of $1 billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund, and plans to sell bonds worth $2.5 billion. According to the estimates of Egyptian economists, the state needs some $11 billion dollars in order to recover from the damage done so far as a result of the revolution.
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