Egyptian provinces need elected governors


President Morsi's decree appointing new governors for 17 of the Egypt's 27 provinces has triggered a new wave of protests and further raised political tensions ahead of the mass demonstrations against Morsi which have been called by opposition groups for June 30.

Seven of the new governors are members of the Muslim Brotherhood and others are military figures but the most controversial appointment is that of Adel al-Khayyat as governor of Luxor.

Khayyat belongs to the political wing of Gamaa Islamiyya, which claimed responsibility for the 1997 Luxor massacre in which 58 tourists and four Egyptians were killed.

Although the Gamaa has since renounced violence, putting one of its members in charge of Luxor – with its huge economic dependence on tourism – seems an extremely provocative move. The Gamaa, which is seen as hostile to tourism and pre-Islamic monuments, once posted a notice on its website saying:

"Because tourist villages have aspects that anger Allah, including alcohol, gambling and other forbidden things, building these hotels and villages is considered aiding their owners in sin and aggression, and is not permitted."

Al-Masry al-Youm (in Arabic) suggests Morsi appointed Khayyat to appease the Gamaa "because it is the only party that stands beside the Brotherhood against the people".

Ahram Online reports protests against several other appointees:

  • In Daqahliya, against Sobhi Atteya who is a member of the Brotherhood's guidance bureau and their former spokesperson in the governorate.

  • In Gharbiya, against Ahmed El-Beili, former head of the Brotherhood's administrative office in the governorate. 

  • In Beheira, against Osama Soliman, a member of the Brotherhood's consultative office and chief of Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in the governorate.

  • In Damietta, against Tareq Khedr, who was a police general under the detested former interior minister, Habib el-Adly.

Only three of the new appointees – in Alexandria, Ismailia and Qena are considered to be independent. Meanwhile, army generals have also taken over the governorship in Aswan, Marsa Matrouh, New Valley, Port Said and the Red Sea district. (See below for the full list of appointments, as published in the Egypt Independent.)

This ought to raise questions in Egypt about why governors continue to be appointed by the president and not elected. A governorship is an important post and a capable governor can make a significant difference – though the role has often been treated as a sinecure for discarded military men.

The new constitution approved last year says: "The law regulates the manner of selecting governors and heads of other local administrative units, and defines their jurisdiction" (Article 187). This means that switching to a system of elected governors would be a relatively simple matter, require a change in the law rather than the constitution.

List of new governors

Alexandria: Maher Baybars, a former Beni Suef governor and a former member of a fact-finding committee that investigated events in Tahrir Square during the January 2011 uprising

Aswan: Ismail Hassan Attiyatallah, a former director of the Air Defense Academy

Beheira: Osama Mohamed Ibrahim Suleiman, secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), a businessman in contracting and real estate

Beni Suef: Adel Abdel Moneim Hassan, a FJP leader, dean of the Faculty of Science at Beni Suef University

Damietta: Tareq Fathalla Khedr, a member of Ghad al-Thawra Party

Daqahlia: Sobhy Attiya, FJP spokesperson in Daqahlia and professor of archaeology at Mansoura University

Fayoum: Gaber Abdel Salam Attia Ibrahim, FJP leadership and electronics engineer

Gharbiya: Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed al-Beyaly, in charge of a Brotherhood administrative office in Damietta, head of the Pharmacists Syndicate tax committee

Ismailia: Hassan Refaie Hussein al-Hawy, former member of the board of directors of the Canal Company for Electricity Distribution

Luxor: Adel Assad Mohamed al-Khayyat, leader from the Construction and Development Party (Jama'a al-Islamiya’s political arm) and an official at the housing authority in Upper Egypt

Matrouh: Badr Tantawy al-Ghandour, a former director of the armed forces’ cyberwar services

Monufiya: Ahmed Sharawy Abdallah Mohamed, Brotherhood leadership, head of the Female Brotherhood members department

New Valley: Mahmoud Khalifa, an army general

Port Said: Samah Qandil, an army general

Qalyubia: Hossam Abou Bakr, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau, holds a PhD in engineering from Mansoura University

Qena: Salah Abdel Meguid, a university professor with a Phd in environmental science

Red Sea: Tareq Mahdy, a former member at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Egyptian Radio and TV Union. Also a former governor of New Valley

Posted by Brian Whitaker
Tuesday, 18 June 2013