Cairo - Egypt's Islamist president is to swear in a new Cabinet on Thursday as tensions are rising over the country's tenuous security, recent sectarian violence and growing popular discontent over issues such as widespread water and power outages.
The ceremony comes a little more than a week after President Mohammed Morsi named political novice Hesham Kandil as prime minister. The US-educated Kandil is scheduled to announce the Cabinet lineup, and then he and his ministers are to be sworn in by Morsi.
The new government will be Morsi's first since taking office 30 June, succeeding Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in a popular uprising nearly 18 months ago, and will be scrutinized for signs of whether the new president has kept his promise of a diverse, inclusive Cabinet.
Kandil, who is in his 40s, served as water minister in the outgoing, military-backed government and his Cabinet — according to official media reports — will include several members of that administration, including the finance and foreign ministers.
The military generals who took over from Mubarak in February 2011 handed over power to Morsi, but not before they stripped the new president of significant powers and declared themselves as the country's legislative authority after dissolving the Brotherhood-dominated parliament. The military also has control over the process of drafting Egypt's new constitution.
An incomplete list of the new Cabinet, released Wednesday, shows that only two known members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood will be included — taking the key posts of higher education and housing. However, many in Egypt will be looking for how many Cabinet members, while not members of the Brotherhood, are Islamists sympathetic to the group.
The radical Islamist Al-Nour party, which supported Morsi in his presidential bid, decided to boycott the government after it was only offered the environment portfolio. It had wanted the communication, local development and business sector ministries, according to a party spokesperson.