After a two-week delay the House of Representatives voted in favour of a limited cabinet reshuffle. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail had earlier announced that nine portfolios — agriculture, parliamentary affairs, supply and trade, local development, planning and administrative reform, education, higher education and transport — would be involved, and that investment and international cooperation would be merged into a single ministry, as would supply and trade.
Hisham Al-Sherif, a former head of the Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC), was appointed minister of local development in place of Ahmed Zaki Badr; MP and Cairo University Economics and Political Science Faculty professor Hala Al-Said replaces Ashraf Al-Arabi as minister of planning, follow-up and administrative reform and Abdel-Moneim Al-Banna, head of the Agricultural Research Centre, replaces Essam Fayyed as minister of agriculture.
Former judge Omar Marwan takes over from Magdi Al-Agati as minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs; Mubarak-era minister of social solidarity Ali Al-Moselhi returns to the cabinet as minister of supply and trade; Khaled Atef Abdel-Ghaffar, head of Menoufiya University, replaces Ashraf Shiha as minister of higher education and scientific research; Tarek Galal Shawki steps in Al-Hilali Al-Sherbini’s shoes at the Ministry of Education and Hisham Arafat takes the place of Galal Al-Said at the Ministry of Transport.
The merging of international cooperation and investment and of supply and trade cuts the number of members of Sherif Ismail’s cabinet from 33 to 31.
Minister of Health Ahmed Emadeddin, Minister of Culture Helmi Al-Namnam and Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa all held on to their jobs despite media speculation, and MPs’ demands, they be sacked.
The four sovereign cabinet ministers — Sedki Sobhi at Defence, Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar at the Interior Ministry, Sameh Shoukri at Foreign Affairs and Minister of Justice Hossam Abdel-Reheim — kept their posts. Under Article 146 of the constitution it is the prerogative of the president to appoint sovereign ministers.
The reshuffle also saw the appointment of three deputy ministers of agriculture — Mohamed Abdel-Tawab, Mona Mehrez, Safwat Abdel-Hamid — and one deputy, Salah Abdel-Rahman, at the Ministry of Planning.
Ismail explained that “the rationale of the new reshuffle is to speed up the pace of economic and social reforms.”
“Selection of new cabinet ministers was based on their ability to implement reforms,” said Ismail.
He noted that “new cabinet ministers must have a vision and know they will be closely supervised by parliament and the media.”
MPs told reporters that Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal was informed on Monday evening of the names of new ministers.
During the following day’s plenary session Abdel-Aal told MPs that he had received a letter from President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi informing him that a limited cabinet reshuffle would be introduced and parliament would be required to vote on the appointments in line with Article 147 of the constitution.
Though Ismail expressed his willingness to attend the vote and respond to any questions MPs might want to raise few MPs tabled questions though many had demanded earlier that the ministers of health and tourism be replaced.
Abdel-Aal told MPs that “the limited cabinet reshuffle comes at avery critical stage of Egypt’s history.”
“This is the first cabinet reshuffle since the new constitution turned Egypt into a mixed parliamentary-presidential system,” said Abdel-Aal. “Article 147 of the constitution stipulates that new cabinet ministers should win parliament’s approval before taking charge of their portfolios.”
“It also states that the president can carry out a cabinet reshuffle only after consulting with the prime minister and gaining the approval of at least one third of MPs.”
Abdel-Aal explained that Article 129 of parliament’s internal bylaws require the president to submit a letter to parliament explaining how many portfolios will be reshuffled and the names of the new cabinet ministers, after which MPs are required to approve or reject the list of new ministers as a whole and not on a case-by-case basis.
“To accept a cabinet post at a time of such hard economic circumstances must have been a challenge,” said Abdel-Aal.