Mursi walks political tightrope on forming a govt

Cairo: Egypt`s president-elect Mohammed Mursi is considering picking a non-Islamist as his prime minister as he cobbles up a government inclusive of all voices and sections, with activist Mohamed ElBaradei and a leftist leader among the possible contenders. Days after being declared the country`s first democratically elected president, Mursi intensified efforts to field his government that will take over from the cabinet of Kamal El-Ganzouri.

However, the leader who has been thrust with the responsibility of anchoring the country`s first civilian government after a revolution is walking a tightrope to please all sections of the Egyptian society while negotiating with the military over how much power the civilian administration will wield.

Negotiations were also on on who will be picked up for the vice presidential positions, with Mursi having stated already that he will appoint three vice presidents from a range of backgrounds — with one either a woman, a Christian or a former presidential candidate. Al Ahram quoted reports in the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk that the future government will be led by a politician who is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, with Nobel Laureate ElBaradei and Egyptian Social Democratic Party leader Ziyad Bahaaeddin, being the possible contenders.

With a year of unrest having thrown the country`s economy into doldrums, Mursi also wants to pick up technocrats as his cabinet members. The protests that started in January last year, and still erupt in pockets, dented the country`s huge tourist market and drove away foreign investors. The economy contracted by 4.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2011 and stagnated in the following three quarters.

Some reports in the Egyptian media have said recently the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) may hold the important ministries of interior, foreign affairs, and defence. At a time when public sentiment runs high against the ruling military, particularly in view of the fact that the SCAF oversaw the dissolution of the recently elected parliament through a court order, people might resent military`s representation in the government.

There were reports that ElBaradei was acting as a mediator between the Muslim Brotherhood, the SCAF and other political forces, to ease out tensions that were much visible during the presidential run off. Mursi is yet to be sworn in as president but before which authority he will take oath is also a matter of dispute and confusion. According to the Constitutional Declaration of March 30, the new elected president should be sworn in in front of the parliament.

But the High Constitutional Court`s decision to dissolve parliament means that Morsi will have to take the oath in front of the HCC itself, according to an `addendum` to the Constitutional Declaration issued by the SCAF last week, which was met with huge anger by revolutionary political powers.