The new cabinet is expected to be sworn in today, Amani Maged reports
Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has finally selected a cabinet, ending a flurry of speculation in the media.
Qandil, appointed prime minister by Egypt's first Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi, met with nearly 60 potential ministers in the last 10 days. Some turned down offers of jobs, others were vetoed by the president. The tortuous process of forming a government has now drawn to a close. New cabinet members will take the oath before President Mursi today.
Speculation focussed mainly on the political background of possible ministers. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) had insisted on 15 portfolios, though commentators questioned whether or not it really mattered that ministers belonged to the party since the entire government would be operating under close Muslim Brotherhood control.
By press time yesterday two members of the FJP had been confirmed as ministers. Engineering professor Mustafa Mosaad has been named as education minister. Tarek Wafiq, the engineer who heads the FJP's housing committee, becomes minister of housing.
Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Hussein Tantawi keeps his post of minister of defence in the new cabinet, retaining the job to which he was first appointed in 1991. Article 52 of the constitutional addendum issued by the SCAF on 17 June stipulated that the head of the military council should remain minister of defence until a new constitution is in place.
Nadia Zakhari, minister of scientific research in the outgoing cabinet, keeps her post, as do Minister of Insurance and Social Affairs Nagwa Khalil and Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim. They are joined by Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and Finance Minister Momtaz El-Said, both of whom emerged from meetings with Qandil yesterday saying they would remain in post.
General Ahmed Gamaleddin, director of the Public Security Authority and a deputy minister of interior, has been promoted to interior minister. The Ministry of Tourism is to be headed by Hisham Zazou.
President of Al-Azhar University Osama El-Abd will head the Ministry of Religious Endowments -- Awqaf. This contradicts last week's public announcement by Salafi preacher Mohamed Yosri Ibrahim that he had been offered, and accepted, the post.
Former football player Alaa Sadek will head the newly-formed Ministry of Sports.
Osama Saleh, the head of the General Authority for Investment, has said he has been appointed investment minister and Osama Kamal, head of the Egyptian Petrochemical Holding Co and a leading member of the Engineers' Syndicate, is reported to be the new petroleum minister.
The Ministry of Communication will be headed by engineer Hani Mahmoud, former chief of the Cabinet Information Centre.
Some analysts have questioned the ability of many new ministers to successfully face the challenges their new posts bring. Their only qualification, say critics, is that they will accept dictates from the Muslim Brotherhood. Others argue that this is not necessarily a bad thing since should the new cabinet prove ineffectual voters will know who to blame come the next election.
Both the president and prime minister are aware that the government's performance will be carefully monitored, not just in Egypt but abroad.
So how much of a free hand did Mursi and Qandil enjoy in selecting the cabinet?
Many believe that the process was masterminded by the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a commonplace assumption that real power lies not with Mursi or Qandil, but with the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie.
Brotherhood sources publicly deny that Badie is running the country. In private, however, they admit that the FJP receives "a lot of help" from the Brotherhood. The party, says one source, is like a baby. It needs nursing and is not yet ready to be weaned.
It is impossible, for the time being, to draw any clear line between the presidency, the FJP and the Muslim Brotherhood. Should the new government fail all three will be blamed.
Some commentators ask whether it is wise to appoint a cabinet with so many engineers. In addition to the confirmed appointments Mohamed Beshr, a member of the Arab Engineers Union and professor of electrical engineering at Menoufiya University, is widely tipped as the new minister of electricity, and Wael Rushdi, a water resource specialist, is a front runner for irrigation minister.
Atef Radwan, president of the Zagazig Faculty of Medicine, has been mentioned as future health minister and economist Tareq Radwan is expected to be offered one of the economic portfolios.
Some members of the outgoing cabinet, including Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour, are reported to have refused offers to keep their jobs.
Qandil's government will be sworn in today, with President Mursi expected to chair the first cabinet meeting. In his letter of assignment to the new government, Mursi is likely to spell out measures for implementing his 100-day programme as well as ground rules for long-term action.
Expectations are high. Qandil and his new team may lack experience but they all share the knowledge that far more than their personal reputations hang in the balance.
In addition to reviewing Qandil's ministerial nominees, Mursi has been reviewing appointees to his own presidential team. The president's spokesman Yasser Ali told Al-Ahram Weekly that a complete list of the team will be published within days, and confirmed, till now, that media figure Hamdi Qandil, Islamic scholar Selim El-Awwa, activist Wael Khalil and Coptic intellectual Samir Morqos had been approached.