Military agrees to dismiss Egypt's current cabinet

 

THE YOUTH coalition that launched the uprising in Egypt has announced that the ruling military council has agreed to dismiss the current government headed by prime minister Ahmad Shafiq ahead of parliamentary elections.

During an eight-hour meeting with with the generals, representatives of the coalition called for the replacement of the cabinet – appointed by former president Hosni Mubarak before his ouster – with a government of technocrats.

However, the military did not fix a timeframe for its resignation or signal acceptance of other key demands put forward by the coalition which has threatened to boycott talks with the generals and resume mass action if its demands are not met.

A persistent popular demand was realised yesterday when Mr Mubarak and family members were banned from travelling abroad and a worldwide freeze on their assets was ordered. Adel al-Saeed, spokesman for the country’s prosecutor general, declared these measures had been put in place until investigations are completed into Mr Mubarak’s accumulation of great wealth during his 30 years in power.

The official daily al-Ahram reported he is alleged to have secret deposits in Egyptian banks amounting to $147 million plus 300 million Egyptian pounds (€36.64 million), and each of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, are said to have $100 million. Mr Mubarak’s salary as president was the equivalent of €3,000 a month.

Until a week ago, when the prosecutor general decided to freeze Mr Mubarark’s foreign assets, an Egyptian informant said that he had, covertly, been in charge, working behind the scenes with members of the armed forces supreme council which had, overtly, assumed presidential powers when he resigned on February 11th. The latest measures seem to make it absolutely clear Mr Mubarak is not only out of power but also could be in line for prosecution and punishment.

During the 18-day popular demonstrations against his rule, protesters assembling in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in central Cairo claimed Mr Mubarak had amassed a fortune of $70 billion at the expense of the Egyptian nation and called for precisely the measures which, belatedly, have been put in place.

More conservative analysts suggest his fortune could range from $1 billion-$40 billion, a large proportion being, apparently, deposited in Swiss banks and invested in property in the UK and US.

As proof, the Egyptian press has reported that law professor Hossam Eissa, head of the committee investigating misappropriation of public funds, said documents revealed that in 2009 Mr Mubarak had transferred $620 million from bank accounts in the UK to Switzerland which, hours after his resignation, confirmed he had “tens of millions of francs” in Swiss banks and said his assets had been frozen.

While the youth coalition counts as progress these measures against Mr Mubarak and his entourage, activists argue that they cannot substitute for real change on the political front, including a handover by the military to a transitional presidential council consisting of one senior officer and two trusted civilians, an end to emergency law, freedom of political parties and the press, and credible elections.