Egypt’s crisis over the formation of a new cabinet continues in light of the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to control the major ministries. This comes amid rumors of a growing rift between the military council and the presidency, after President Mohammed Morsi failed to attend the funeral of the brother of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Morsi sent the acting head of the presidential staff, along with the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, to represent him at the funeral.
Kamal Zakher, coordinator of the Secular Copts movement, emphasized that there was no conflict between SCAF and the presidency. He added that the announcement of a new cabinet had been postponed because of the reluctance of certain political forces to participate in the new government. This reluctance is a result of various crises Egypt is facing, including the Brotherhood’s desire to exert control over the Cabinet in an ostentatious way, a move that other political parties find disquieting.
Zakher described talk of a conflict between the military council and Morsi as nonsense and unfounded. He explained that “the military council’s one and only condition is to obtain the Defense Ministry.” In a statement to Al-Khabar, Zakher confirmed that without the idea of collective leadership, the new PM’s efforts will fail and result in a decrease in support from other political forces, which had previously aligned themselves with the Brotherhood. He added that the Islamic movement will fail miserably as a result of a number of factors: They lack technocrat figures that represent the Egyptian street, and they wish to impose hegemony by controlling the major ministries, including the ministries of economy, finance and others. Zakher believes that this position will make the situation even more confusing. He also added that President Morsi’s advisers are unable to clearly read the political scene and take into consideration its social dimensions, resulting in his absence at the funeral of Tantawi’s brother. His failure to attend the funeral will lead to a decrease in the president’s popularity and create a cooling of ties between the military council and the country’s governing body.
Meantime, media reports revealed [29 July] that ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his aides will be released from prison early. This comes after news of a pardon that includes Egyptian prisoners older than 60 along with those suffering from chronic illnesses. The amnesty will include all members of the former regime, including Mubarak, former Shura Council headSafwat Sharif, former presidential cheif of staff Zakaria Azmi and former PM Ahmed Nazif. However, some security sources have denied that the pardon will include Mubarak and his aides.
In related news, Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate released a report stating that Mubarak, along with his brother-in-law Mounir Tabet and fugitive businessman Hussein Salem, founded an arms-trafficking company in Paris called White Wings. The report confirmed that during his reign, Mubarak had accumulated a fortune from military ventures, government services and joint ventures with foreign investors. The report added that Mubarak smuggled most of his funds through the Swiss banking group Echotrade.