Hesham Kandil named Egypt's new prime minister


Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt on July 8, 2012.



Hesham Kandil has been named the new prime minister of Egypt by the country's president, Mohamed Morsi.

The appointment was announced on state TV this morning, Al Jazeera reported, and will be followed by the formation of a new cabinet that Kandil will pick in coordination with the president.

According to Egyptian news site Ahram Online, Kandil served as minister of irrigation and water resources in Egypt's interim government, which was appointed after the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Ahram describes Kandil's appointment as surprising to some observers, given his relative youth – he is 50 – and lack of political experience. As a US-educated irrigation engineer with no known affiliation to any party, he's characterized by Daily News Egypt as "an apolitical technocrat."

As such, Kandil tallies with President Morsi's promise to appoint a government that represents all factions, which according to the New York Times meant that he was looking for a "credible, non-Islamist" figure to serve as his PM.

The choice of a water specialist also indicates that Morsi wants to make Egypt's dispute with its neighbors over rights to the River Nile a top priority, suggests Al Jazeera's Cairo correspondent, Rawya Rageh.

The next challenge will be to form a cabinet. According to the Times, Morsi will struggle to wrest power from Egypt's military, which is likely to want to keep control of security and defense ministries.

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