Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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EGYPT: Who to believe?

November 22, 2007 |  2:14 am

Two days after an announcement that the government finalized a plan to build a new capital,  President Hosni Mubarak dealt a blow  to his cabinet by ridiculing the project and declaring that his treasury could not afford such a project, a statement that embarrassed the cabinet, which is a presidential appointee.

The president's move was translated by many Egyptians as a flagrant sign of the lack of coordination between the head of the Executive and his subordinates.

"I will no spend big amounts of money on a new capital at a time time where I need this money to achieve social justice for citizens," Mubarak told reporters this week.

Two days earlier, it was announced that the government had hammered out the details of the plan and was only waiting for the parliament's say.  Some writers were content to put the blame for this confusion on the government rather than the president, calling on the government to resign.

"The project was announced, then cancelled without the people knowing anything, as if ruling authorities perceive the people as mere observers not partners…The government did not tell us anything about the reasons, the details or the funding of the project," wrote Magdy El-Gallad editor in chief of Egypt's most well respected independent daily El-Masry El-Youm.

"Neither the president told us why the government announced the project or why he cancelled it…If the government does not want to resign in this situation, it has one of two choices: either to take the people as a mature partner or to accept the people's resignation," El-Gallad wrote ironically.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo