The ministers of Egypt's new Cabinet were sworn in on Sunday (21 March) in the Sinai town of Kantara East, on the East bank of the Suez Canal.
The ministers of Egypt's new Cabinet were sworn in on Sunday (21 March) in the Sinai town of Kantara East, on the East bank of the Suez Canal. It was the first time that such a ceremony had taken place in the Sinai, and the ceremony was watched by Egypt's head-of-state, President Anwar Sadat.
The country's semi-official newspaper, Al-Ahram, said that it had been decided to hold the ceremony in the Sinai to symbolise the Egyptians' love "for this liberated land". Prime Minister Mamdouh Salem had only completed his Cabinet list the day before (Saturday).
Kantara East is the second largest Egyptian town in Sinai, after Al-Arish. President Sadat was able to attend the ceremony because he is currently touring those towns in Sinai which are near the Suez Canal and which were liberated from Israeli occupation during the 1973 war.
Among the ministers to be sworn in were Dr. Mohamed Hafez Ghanem, the Deputy Premier for Social Development and Services, Mr. El Sayed Ahmed Sultan, the Deputy Premier for Production and Minister of Power and Energy, Dr. Aisha Rateb, the Minister of Social Affairs and Insurance, Dr. Mustafa Kamal Hilmy, the Minister of Education, and Dr. Gamal El-Oteify, the Minister of Information and Culture.
One of the most important problems facing the new Government will be the deteriorating relations Egypt and Libya. As the new Cabinet was being sworn in, Reuters News Agency was reporting official Egyptian sources as saying that more than 25,000 Egyptians had been expelled from Libya. The refugees were arriving in their hundreds at the Salloum refugee centre near the joint Libyan-Egyptian border area.
The Governor of one province in the Western Desert, named as Major General Saad Mamoun, was quoted as saying on Saturday that on the previous Tuesday (16 March) 7,000 Egyptians had been expelled within twenty-four hours.
Some of the refugees, most of whom are building workers, claimed that Libyan troops fired over their heads after they had disembarked from trucks at the customs area. They also claimed that their luggage and money had been confiscated by the Libyan authorities.
The Libyans began expelling Egyptians earlier this month after the arrest in Cairo of 27 Libyans who were said by Egypt to have been sent to carry out assassinations, kidnappings and sabotage.