A mock online campaign calling for the nomination of the Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat El-Shater for prime minister emerged on Monday, following news that a cabinet reshuffling was imminent. The Freedom and Justice Party spokesperson Waleed El-Haddad denied either was true.
A reshuffling of the Cabinet was announced through several media outlets, including the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper. According to Al-Ahram on Monday, FJP spokesperson Mourad Ali had announced a reshuffling would occur “in the coming days.”
Ali had told journalists that there were differing opinions regarding Hisham Qandil’s cabinet following the approval of the referendum. Some of those, the article claimed, believed the cabinet should tender their resignation in light of the new powers granted to the prime minister as a result of the new constitution.
“Ali’s statement was taken out of context by the journalists who had called him for a comment,” El-Haddad said. Upon discovering the articles, Ali and the FJP had sent emails to the editors correcting their mistake.
“As far as the FJP is concerned there is no imminent Cabinet reshuffling,” El-Haddad said, adding that such matters were presidential issues and it was not their place to announce.
The online campaign nominating El-Shater was circulated via Twitter and Facebook in the form of a photograph of El-Shater, but no announcement or endorsement had come from the FJP’s official media outlets.
The poster read “Khairet El-Shater for Prime Minister of Egypt; because he is the most capable and qualified for the responsibility.” Its origins were traced back to a Facebook page called the Second Egyptian Revolution of Anger, an independent activist page dedicated to disseminating information on marches and protests. On the bottom-right corner it read “like if you are Muslim Brotherhood.”
“I have not seen the poster but I can tell you that no such nomination was made by the party,” El-Haddad said, adding again that it is a presidential issue which has nothing to do with the party.
El-Shater was the Brotherhood’s first-choice for president, but was disqualified because he had been given a criminal conviction less than six years prior to the elections. His alleged bodyguard, Khalil Al-Aqid, was arrested on 15 December outside a polling station for carrying an unlicensed firearm. During the investigation, police discovered photographs of Al-Aqid carrying several types of firearms and wearing military fatigues similar to that of the Al-Qassam brigade, the military wing of Hamas.
Al-Aqid denied having trained in Gaza, saying the photographs were fake and he would not have any reason to take photographs of himself which could be incriminating. He did, however, admit to having travelled to Gaza through the smugglers tunnels once in 2008. He claims it was related to charity work for an organisation known as Egypt for All.