Thursday’s papers: Eyes on the Cabinet

News updates and analyses about President Mohamed Morsy’s first Cabinet take the lion’s share in Thursday’s papers. After almost one month of ambiguity and following last week's appointment of low-profile former Irrigation Minister Hesham Qandil as prime minister,  the Cabinet is set to be announced Thursday.

State-run Al-Ahram newspaper leads with “Qandil’s Cabinet to be sworn in today before the president and the Nour Party withdraws.” The Salafi party pulled out of the Cabinet in objection to being offered only one ministerial post, says the paper. The state-owned daily goes on listing the names of candidates for different cabinet positions, without giving any details about them. Judge Ahmed Mekky, is expected to head the Justice Ministry, Ali Sabry will take over Military Production,Alaa Ashour Aviation,Ibrahim Ghoneim Education and Ahmed Gamal Eddin the Interior Ministry. The paper also reports that poet and writer Farouk Gouida declined an offer to become culture minister.

Private daily Al-Shorouk says six ministers from Kamal al-Ganzouri’s outgoing military-appointed Cabinet will remain in office, including Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, Finance Minister Momtaz al-Saeed, Minister of Insurance and Social Affairs Nagwa Khalil, Scientific Research Minister Nadia Zakhary and, no surprises here, Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi. The paper also highlights new faces that are emerging from the heart of the old bureaucracy. Osama Saleh, the head of the General Authority for Investment has been tapped for investment minister, Al-Azhar University President Osama al-Abd for endowments minister, the head of the Petrochemicals Holding Company Osama Kamal for oil and Electricity and Energy Holding Company head Mohamed Balbaa for electricity. The paper also reports that the Freedom and Justice Party has taken over the Higher Education and Housing ministries.  

Independent Al-Tahrir newspaper argues that the new Cabinet reflects “a compromise between the Brothers and [Hosni] Mubarak’s bureaucrats.” The privately-owned daily also republishes a column that initially ran in February, bashing then-deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin, who will now head the ministry. Ibrahim Mansour, the paper’s executive editor-in-chief, wrote the piece in response a talk Gamal Eddin gave before the People’s Assembly days after protests had broken out outside the Interior Ministry demanding an overhaul of the police apparatus.

“The man had spoken to the Defense and National Security Committee of plans to break in the Interior Ministry and the television buildings as well the headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Unfortunately, respectable MPs had given space for this man’s sick imagination,” wrote Mansour.

The column also highlights the family ties between Gamal Eddin and one of the stalwarts of the disbanded National Democratic Party: “General Gamal Eddin is the nephew of Abdel Ahad Gamal Eddin, the leader of the NDP’s last parliamentary bloc … and one of the defenders of the ousted President Mubarak’s policies.

The same paper’s front page leads with “Israel defies the presidency.” In response to Morsy’s denial that he had sent a thank you letter to Israeli President Shimon Peres, the Israeli government published a copy of the letter, says the paper. The Israeli press has complained about what it reportedly dubbed “a deceitful Egyptian operation.”

The paper quotes an Israeli official who had spoken to BBC radio questioning how Morsy’s letter could be false if it came through the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv. “Maybe the pressures that Morsy had faced after news about this letter came out pushed him to deny it,” the Israeli official was quoted as saying.

Al-Shorouk warns of the continuation of sectarian violence that erupted earlier this week in the village of Dahshour. The paper reads:  “War drums are beating in Dahshour and the residents are getting prepared for ‘retaliation.’” Violence broke out in the village south of Cairo last week, leaving a young Muslim man dead. In response, Muslims targeted Coptic businesses and homes, reports Al-Shorouk. The victim’s family had reportedly announced over a mosque’s speaker that it would have revenge. In the meantime, the priests of Dahshour church and members of the Coptic activist group Maspero Youth Union held a protest outside the presidential palace on Wednesday.

Party paper Freedom and Justice advances the Muslim Brotherhood’s war against the media. It dedicates almost a full page to discuss methods of dealing with the media-propagated “lies and rumors” that affect the image of the president. The paper says that a presidential report has identified 13 rumors so far propagated by a number of papers and TV channels. The prosecution of journalists is apparently on the table as one way to stop the humiliation of the president.  

Egypt’s papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Watan: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party

Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party

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