Egypt's army appoints new PM in people power victory
Published 04/03/2011 | 05:00
THE new military rulers of Egypt yesterday appointed the first post-Hosni Mubarak prime minister.
The move was seen as an attempt to appease thousands of protesters who have threatened to renew the occupation of a central Cairo square in a mass demonstration.
The opposition hailed the decision as another victory for "people power" but many warned pressure must be maintained on the military to implement other democratic reforms, including an accountable police agency and a new constitution.
Leaders of the 18-day uprising that forced Mr Mubarak to resign had been putting pressure on the military to fire Ahmed Shafiq, arguing that a prime minister sworn in by the ousted leader should not stay in office.
The military's official Facebook page said former Transport Minister Essam Sharaf had been chosen as prime minister and asked to form a caretaker cabinet during the transition to civilian rule.
Activists say they had recommended the choice of mr Sharaf.
"First we ousted Mubarak. Second, we got rid of Shafiq. We have become again the owners of this country," said Bassem Kamel, a member of the Youth Coalition, an umbrella group of activists who launched the protests January 25.
Mr Sharaf, who served in the Cabinet for 18 months between 2004 and the end of 2005, has endeared himself to the youth groups by visiting them in Cairo's central Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, the uprising's epicenter. An engineer, Mr Sharaf also appeared to fit the image of a professional civil servant who, after leaving office, founded a group of like-minded scientists called "the age of science".
"He is a reformer and was a vocal critic" of the old system, said Shady Ghazali, another protest leader.
The youth celebrated in the way that was the pillar of their uprising: on social networking sites. Soon after his appointment, the name of the new minister started trending on Twitter.
Pro-democracy activist and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei thanked the military for "listening to the people".
"Today (the) old regime has finally fallen. We are on the right track," ElBaradei said on his Twitter account. He is a likely presidential candidate who has returned to Egypt since the protests.
"Let us all get down to work and start rebuilding our country. We want the world to know that Egypt is open for business," said ElBaradei, the former head of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency.