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Choosing Egypt's PM: It's all about the economy

Interim President Adly Mansour has been searching for a Prime Minister for a week now – what is determining his selection?

In response to public demand, Egypt’s military leader AbdelFattah ElSissy ousted President Mohamed Morsi after one year in office and appointed top judge of Egypt's Constitutional Court Justice Adly Mansour as the interim president, vowing that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces will not play a political role in the future.


PM candidates from left to right:

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Dr. Ziad Bahaa ElDin, Samir Radwan, Dr. Hazem ElBeblawi

Ever since, Mansour has been in talks with parties and movements in order to appoint Egypt’s Prime Minister (PM) who will then build a cabinet. The decision has been delayed several times and whenever a name rises to the occasion, it is denied a couple of hours later. Yet, there is one thing that most of the candidates until now have in common: economic expertise.

Mansour and his consultants have realized that without a smart short- and long-term vision for the economy, no efficient political frameworks can be built.

Looking at the names that have been on the map so far, it seems almost sure that Egypt’s soon-to-be-appointed PM will either be an economist or have experience in economic matters.

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei was Mansour’s first choice. ElBaradei is a liberal politician who has been on Egypt’s political map ever since 2010, when he was planning to run for presidential elections against Hosny Mubarak. A year later, Mubarak was overthrown by the 25th of January Revolution. ElBaradei insists that without stability, Egypt’s economy will not flourish and has been voicing his advice for economic reform for the past years. ElBaradei is also a Nobel peace laureate and former head of the UN's nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency. He also attended the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

The second option was Dr. Ziad Bahaa ElDin, the former Chairman of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA), a public authority responsible for the supervision over all non-bank financial markets, institutions and products. He was a non-executive member of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Egypt, and the National Bank of Egypt, and the Chairman of the Upper Egypt Investment Company. Dr. Bahaa-Eldin received his Ph.D. in Financial Law and a Master in International Business Law, a BA in Economics from the American University in Cairo. Although Dr. Ziad Bahaa ElDin was an active politician during the regime of ousted president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, he was never accused of being a remnant of that regime, unlike many politicians and public figures.

The third person in the picture was Samir Radwan, a renowned economist, who graduated from Cairo University and pursued Higher Studies in Economics in London. Radwan was the Finance Minister in 2011, under former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik and former Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. He is a specialist in development, operational policies and the labor market as he worked as a consultant on developmental policies and Arab countries in the International Labor Organization for over 30 years. Besides supervising Egypt’s Annual Competitiveness Report, he was also a lecturer at Oxford University in England. He was also a member of the today dissolved National Democratic Party, the ruling party during the regime of ousted President Mohamed Hosny Mubarak.

The most recent name that emerged was that of former Finance Minister Dr. Hazem ElBeblawi, Radwan’s successor in a cabinet reshuffle in 2011 under Essam Sharaf and former deputy prime minister for economic affairs. ElBeblawi is the author of several books on economic and financial issues and Advisor and Acting Director of the Legal Department at the Arab Monetary Fund. He served as Under Secretary General of the U.N., Executive Secretary for ESCWA and was chairman of the Export Development Bank of Egypt.

It is clear: The economy is Egypt’s main concern at the moment. With a widened budget deficit, the until recently weakening pound and the stretched-out negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a $4.8 billion loan, it seems like Egypt’s interim president is searching for an economic mastermind in order to safely guide Egypt out of the bottleneck and implement an economic vision that will be followed by all ministries.

Yet, the final decision has not been made until now.