Newly assigned Prime Minister Sherif Ismail began the formal consultations to form a new cabinet on Sunday, following the resignation of Ibrahim Mehleb’s cabinet on Saturday.
The new premier and minister of petroleum is trying to keep his meetings with ministers of the former cabinet and candidates to join the new cabinet quiet and away from the media, holding meetings at the premises of the petroleum ministry.
The resignation of the cabinet came following a corruption case that involved the former minister of agriculture Salah Helal and reportedly other ministers in the cabinet.
Rumours of corruption have surrounded minister of religious endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa.
Reports had suggested that the minister had been one of 50 individuals that had a travel ban imposed on them, thus barring Gomaa from attending the Hajj pilgrimage. However, the government and Gomaa denied the reports. It was alleged that Gomaa may be implicated in the same land deals case as Helal.
Names of candidates to replace Gomaa started to be revealed from inside both of the Islamic institutions of Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Religious Endowments.
With a louder shout to take the post, Abbas Shuman deputy of Al-Azhar sheikhdom looks the closest to succeed Gomaa as he is one of the closest people to Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb, who has a strong say in the nomination of a minister of endowments.
A hint by the president of Al-Azhar University said in a Saturday meeting that if Shuman is to take a ministerial position he will preserve his status as a professor, backs the speculations.
Another nominee is Mohey Afifi, head of the Academy for Islamic Research. He also has the support of Al-Tayeb and the religious preaching experience that might come in handy to apply the president’s recurring demands to improve the religious discourse of the state’s Islamic institutions.
Speculations on the race also include the deputy president of Al-Azhar University Mohamed Abu Hashem.