Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1276, (31 December 2015 - 6 January 2016))
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1276, (31 December 2015 - 6 January 2016))

Ahram Weekly

Back to military

A government reshuffle of governors with mostly military and police backgrounds causes concern, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

On Saturday, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi appointed 11 governors in a reshuffle that prominently featured their military and police backgrounds. The president also appointed five ministerial deputies. The reshuffle came after Al-Sharqiya Governor Reda Abdel-Salam was dismissed by the cabinet for yet unspecified reasons after less than one year on the job. Only two of the newly appointed governors were civilians. The new appointments did not include women.

The dismissal of Abdel-Salam, who is a professor of economics and public finance in the Faculty of Law at Mansoura University, caused much controversy in Al-Sharqiya and among its governorate employees. Al-Sharqiya residents staged a protest in front of the governorate’s headquarters objecting to his sacking. There were reports that Abdel-Salam was dismissed after he received a phone call on 25 December from Minister of Local Development Ahmed Zaki Badr telling him not to go to his office the following day.

The newly appointed governors include those from Giza, Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, Al-Sharqiya, Suez, Port Said, Al-Qalioubiya, Al-Gharbiya, Al-Minya, Aswan and Beni Sueif. They include Kamal Al-Dali of Giza who served as head of the Giza Security Directorate, Khaled Said of Al-Sharqiya who was a military officer and Ahmed Fathi of Suez, a former army officer who was Marsa Matrouh’s governor in 2012 during the tenure of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The two civilians are Sherif Abdel-Aziz, Beni Sueif governor who is a civil engineer and was head of the state-owned Arab Contractors Company, and Mohamed Abdel-Zaher, a civil engineer who served as secretary-general of the governorates of Cairo and Alexandria.

The new governors also include Aswan’s deputy security officer Ahmed Sakr, now in Al-Gharbiya. Al-Sayed Ibrahim Nasr was appointed Kafr Al-Sheikh governor while military officer Tarek Nasr became governor of Al-Minya. Military officer Reda Farahat was chosen Al-Qalioubiya governor. General Magdi Hegazi and General Adel Al-Ghadban were picked as Aswan and Port Said governors, respectively.

The five ministerial deputies were appointed in the ministries of education, health, higher education, housing, and communications. Among the five only one woman was named. Essam Khamis became deputy minister of higher education while Ahmed Gioushi was named deputy minister of education. Maysa Mohamed took the same post in the Health and Population Ministry while Ahmed Adel was tapped deputy of the Ministry of Housing and Mohamed Nabil deputy minister at the Ministry of Communications.

The newly appointed governors were sworn into office on 26 December in the presidential palace in the presence of Al-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail. Minister of Local Development Ahmed Zaki Badr was among the attendees. Immediately after the oath, Al-Sisi wished them success in their new mission.

During the meeting, official presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef said Al-Sisi focused on the necessity of taking all necessary steps to improve living standards and protect low-income citizens while achieving higher levels of transparency and fighting corruption, according to a statement. “It is essential to increase people’s awareness about the dangers of over-population and its impact on families and the country,” said Al-Sisi who stressed the importance of continuous communication between governorates and ministries “to reach the best results”.

The reshuffle is Al-Sisi’s third since he came to power in 2014. The last was in February when 17 governors -- only two with military backgrounds -- were appointed.

Since the 2011 Revolution, political activists have decried the domination of military and police figures in governorship posts. Mohamed Abul-Ghar, head of the Egyptian Democratic Party, said the appointment of military and security officials comes at the expense of low-income citizens. “These officials do not have any political experience and so are not capable of serving the people and solving the governorate’s problems,” said Abul-Ghar, adding that the president “wants to militarise the country the way Morsi wanted to Islamise it”.

“Military and police figures oppress people, and they don’t solve their problems,” Abul-Ghar stated.

Awatef Abdel-Rahman, a professor of mass communication at Cairo University, criticised the appointment of military figures in such posts. Abdel-Rahman said the president is taking the same steps as that of former president Hosni Mubarak. “Military personnel have stolen dreams of civilians and controlled them,” said Abdel-Rahman.

“How can any official with a military or security background serve in a political post?” Abdel-Rahman asked. “They only know how to fight in battles, draw up security plans and maintain order, but are not into politics. Most of them are unqualified to serve the needs of the people.”

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