Egypt's new cabinet met for the first time on Wednesday with security high on its agenda and was dismissed by from the Muslim Brotherhood and others who want it purged of ministers appointed by ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
In preparation for polls that military rulers have promised to hand over power to civilian rule in six months, activists announced the forming of a new political party on Wednesday.
The Brotherhood and other political groups have called for another million-man-march on Friday to fill Cairo's central Tahrir Square, which was the nerve-centre for opposition to Mubarak's 30-year iron rule, to call for a new cabinet.
Banned under Mubarak and playing an increasingly active role in Egyptian political life since the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak, the Brotherhood wants the lifting of emergency law, freeing of political prisoners and a purge of the cabinet.
In the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections, a committee is amending the constitution to dismantle the apparatus that propped up Mubarak's rule and political parties are being registered ahead of the polls.
A former diplomat, Abdallah Alashaal, was quoted by MENA news agency on Wednesday as saying he was setting up a new political party "Egypt the Free" to participate in the polls.
"The establishment of the party comes within the framework and desire to make a real representation of the youth of Jan. 25 revolution during the coming period," Alashaal said.
"No key changes"
The cabinet will discuss security issues in the post-Mubarak era and the provision of basic foods and subsidies on Wednesday, political sources said. Despite political pressure, there are unlikely to be further changes in the cabinet, they added.
Another priority facing the cabinet is getting the nation back to work and to stop the protests and strikes that have damaged an economy that had already been damaged by the turmoil of the revolution which erupted on Jan. 25.
The Egyptian stock market, which closed two days after the uprising started, has announced that it will stay shut until next week.
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that is running the Arab world's most populous nation, swore in 10 new ministers on Tuesday, some who had opposed Mubarak, but key portfolios were unchanged.
The latest reshuffle brought into the cabinet a few opposition figures including Yehia el-Gamal, deputy prime minister, the Wafd party's Mounir Abdel Nour as tourism minister and Tagammu party's Gowdat Abdel-Khaleq as minister of social solidarity and social justice.
Both Wafd and Tagammu had often been close to Mubarak's government.
The Center for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS) said the government's appointment of Ismail Ibrahim Fahmy as new labour minister showed it continued to "co-opt formal labour unions and the labour ministry," it said in a statement.
Fahmy was the treasurer of the general union for workers syndicates in Egypt. "We warn of the dire consequences of defying the will of the workers and their legitimate right to enjoy union rights," CTUWS said.
"Egypt under tutelage of West"
The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's biggest opposition group, said the new cabinet showed that Mubarak's "cronies" still controlled the country's politics.
"This new cabinet is an illusion," Brotherhood senior member Essam el-Erian said. "It pretends it includes real opposition but in reality this new government puts Egypt under the tutelage of the West," he added.
"The main defence, justice, interior and foreign ministries remain unchanged, signalling Egypt's politics remain in the hands of Mubarak and his cronies," Erian said.
"The main ministries of defence, justice, interior and foreign remain unchanged, signalling Egypt's politics remain in the hands of Mubarak and his cronies," senior Brotherhood member Essam el-Erian told Reuters, reacting to the new line-up.
The Brotherhood and youth groups are anxious that the emergency law, imposed in 1981.
"The call for the million-man march on Friday would show people's anger and frustration," Erian said.
AgenciesLast Mod: 23 Şubat 2011, 12:24