President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has sworn in a new government, Egypt’s state news agency reported Saturday, one week after the previous Cabinet resigned amid a corruption probe.
The new government, headed by former Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail, came after state-friendly media slammed the performance of his predecessor Ibrahim Mehleb and prosecutors began investigating several officials for allegedly receiving over $1 million in bribes.
Local media accused Mehleb and his ministers of incompetence and being out of touch with the public.
The accusations stood in contrast to coverage of El-Sissi, the former general and defense minister who led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. He has cultivated an image as a leader who is above the political fray and is routinely praised by Egyptian media.
Egypt, whose governments have long been plagued by corruption allegations, has been in turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Following the ceremony, el-Sissi told the new government to “double the pace of work and finish national projects on time.” El-Sissi is overseeing a series of ambitious projects to revive Egypt’s battered economy, including developing roads, building a million housing units and the recent expansion of the Suez Canal.
El-Sissi also restructured the Cabinet, merging several ministries and forming a new body responsible for immigration, according to the Middle East News Agency. Prime Minister Ismail was among the most celebrated ministers in the former Cabinet, especially after Italy’s Eni SpA revealed late last month their discovery of the “largest-ever” oil field in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Egypt.
The new 33-member Cabinet contains three women and 16 new members. Two of the newcomers, Education Minister Zaki Badr and Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, served in similar posts under Mubarak. The country’s interior, justice, defense, finance and investment ministers, however, kept their posts. B
ound by the constitution, Egypt’s new government must submit its resignation once the new parliament convenes in December, following upcoming parliamentary elections. According to local media reports, the inherently short-term nature of the current Cabinet prompted some ministerial candidates to decline offers to join. Egypt has been without a legislature for three years. In its absence, el-Sissi holds legislative authority and has passed dozens of laws by decree.