Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013
Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Refurbishing the presidency

President Mohamed Morsi is expected to announce a new team of advisers, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Nour Party member Bassem Al-Zarka, President Mohamed Morsi’s adviser for political affairs, submitted his resignation on 18 February in solidarity with fellow party member Khaled Alameddin, sacked as the president’s adviser for environmental affairs a day earlier amid briefings he had used his post for personal gain.
Alameddin and Al-Zarka held a press conference on Monday noon at which the former environmental adviser said he had no idea why he had been dismissed.
“I wasn’t officially informed of the decision. I called the presidency several times but no one picked up the phone,” said Alameddin. “The whole incident was humiliating, and I want an apology from the president.”
The Nour Party is expected to issue an official statement on Alameddin’s dismissal. Party spokesman Nader Bakkar told journalists that the president’s office  “denies all accusations levelled at Alameddin and is in the process of preparing an apology for his dismissal”, claims that were dismissed by Morsi’s legal adviser Mohamed Fouad Gadallah.
“The presidency is not preparing any apology. Alameddin was dismissed because the team he was working with functioned in a manner that made him a source of suspicion,” said Gadallah.
On 14 February Morsi issued a presidential decree appointing his official spokesman Yasser Ali as head of the cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC). In recent weeks Ali’s job appeared to consist of continuously denying press reports about the president. It is rumoured Morsi wanted to remove him from direct media scrutiny. Ali will take up his new post at the beginning of March.
Morsi began his term in office by appointing 21 presidential advisers. Following the latest two departures just 10 of the original team remain. Of those six are members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Veteran writer Sekina Fouad, editor-in-chief of Weghat Nazar magazine Ayman Al-Sayyad, political scientist Seifeddin Abdel-Fattah, prominent Coptic thinker Samir Morcos, writer Farouk Guweida and TV anchor Amr Al-Leithi are among those who resigned their posts, citing their advisory positions as pointless given that the president never consulted them before taking decisions.
Kifaya leader George Ishak believes Morsi is clearing the decks to appoint a new set of advisers.
“In the previous team opposition representatives were totally ignored. Yet it is essential in the current environment that he listen to opposition voices,” says Isaac.
“I just hope the new team will be smaller and less unwieldy than before and that the president is serious about listening to the advice they offer rather than taking directions from the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The departure of the two Nour Party advisers from the presidential team, says Emad Gad of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, is a reflection of the growing rift between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist party.
“Nour has been in dialogue with the National Salvation Front [NSF] and has made calls for a national salvation government, the appointment of a new prosecutor-general, and the amendment of controversial constitutional articles.” It is this, argues Gad, that has provoked the ire of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Gad points out that Emad Abdel-Ghafour, former head of the Nour Party who broke ranks and formed his own Salafist party, the Watan, has retained his post as presidential adviser for social communication.
“Alameddin’s dismissal can be seen as punishment for the way Nour has moved away from the Islamist herd,” says Gad.
Pakinam Al-Sharkawi, the presidential adviser for political affairs, argues that a change in the presidential team is necessary to allow the president’s office to catch up with political developments.
“Reports saying the dismissal of Salafi members due to political disagreements are pointless. The president, along with his advisory team, place Egypt’s welfare on top of their agenda regardless of personal and political disputes. Change is essential in order to reflect the different political powers in the political arena,” she said.
According to Al-Sharkawi, without a solution to the current political crisis Egypt will face chaos.
“The different sectors of society, its various political, religious, social and cultural affiliations, must all be represented in the new team. Names will soon be announced,” she said.

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