CAIRO: In a surprise cabinet reshuffle Thursday, the Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was replaced with a retired General Magdi Abdel Ghaffar, while Ibrahim was reassigned to the post of security advisor to the prime minister.
According to the available information on his biography, Abdel Ghaffar was the former head of State Security Apparatus; he had experienced working on religious extremism and radical groups issues during his tenure.
Who is the new Minister of Interior?
– Magdi Abdel Ghaffar was born in Cairo in August 14, 1952.
– He graduated from the Police Academy in 1974, and served as Lieutenant at Central Security apparatus until 1977.
– He was assigned as a State Security officer until 1993, and then he was delegated to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1995.
– He served as Undersecretary of one of the departments at the National Security Apparatus until 2002; he was then promoted to different ranks before he was appointed as the head of the apparatus.
– He retired after reaching the legal age of retirement in July 2011
– He was assigned as Interior Minister on March 5, 2015.
Following the Jan. 25, Revolution in 2011, the State Security agency, gained notorious reputation of brutal practices against citizens, was replaced by the National Security Apparatus.
In previous statements as the head of the new apparatus, Abdel Ghaffar did not deny “expanded intervention” by the old agency in the personal rights and “lawless practices” and “lack of commitment to the fundamental principles of human rights” of citizens. During the 2011 interview, he promised that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.
Now, Abdel Ghaffar’s assignment comes at a time the ministry is facing heightened public anger among activists who believe they are being under a crackdown by the ministry of interior.
The ministry has drawn criticism of human rights organizations against “brutal crackdown” against opponents; including Islamists and revolutionaries.
The unexpected replacement of Ibrahim, who was assigned to his position under former President Mohamed Morsi in 2012, followed a number of recent incidents that triggered public anger against the ministry, with some calling on Ibrahim to resign.
At least 19 football fans were killed outside a Cairo stadium in February after security forces banned them from entering the stadium over allegations they did not have tickets; forces fired teargas causing stampede among the gathering.
Leftist political activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh was killed with a birdshot in a reportedly peaceful march commemorating 2011 uprising. Meanwhile, rights groups accused the interior ministry of violating the protest law by not following gradual use of force as well as for not differentiating between peaceful and violent demonstrations.
Furthermore, Abdel Ghaffar’s tenure begins amid growing militant insurgency not only in the northern tip of Sinai Peninsula but also across the nation.
With his previous expertise in the field before his two-year retirement, Abdel Ghaffar should be expected to have a strategy to curb the growing militants’ threat.
Attacking security personnel and installations and public utilities along with blowing off gas pipelines, mobile companies and electricity towers in several areas became a daily routine in Egypt.
The police and the armed forces launched intensified security campaign against radical groups that have killed hundreds of security personnel and intimated residents in North Sinai.
Thursday cabinet reshuffle comes ahead of the awaited economic summit, which is scheduled to be held on March 13-15 in Sharm el-Sheikh city in South Sinai. The move included changing eight portfolios; including tourism, antiquities, and communications.