Egypt's Morsi Faces A Fight With Military Over Cabinet

President Mohammed Morsi faces a bitter fight with Egypt's military leadership over cabinet posts in the next government after becoming the country's first freely elected leader on Saturday.

Morsi Faces Military Showdown In Egypt

CAIRO—President Mohammed Morsi faces a bitter fight with Egypt's military leadership over cabinet posts in the next government after becoming the country's first freely elected leader on Saturday.

The judiciary and the military—which ceded power to Mr. Morsi in a ceremony at a military base Saturday afternoon—are now his uneasy partners, with each vying for authority in an ill-defined governance system that has withstood constant change and manipulation until the eve of Mr. Morsi assuming office.

The immediate task ahead for 60-year-old Mr. Morsi will be to choose a cabinet—a delicate enterprise that will be closely scrutinized by liberal-minded leaders who agreed to support the former Muslim Brotherhood leader on condition that he appoint a power-sharing government staffed mostly with ministers from outside the powerful Islamist group to which Mr. Morsi once swore loyalty.

Mr. Morsi's campaign announced before the inauguration that he had resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

But few secular-minded politicians are likely to savor the prospect of taking a subservient position to a presidency that many Egyptians believe will act as an extension of the organization.

"Not many people will want to be seen as taking orders from a Muslim Brotherhood president, certainly not any politician who is independent-minded," said Mazen Hassan, a political analyst at Cairo University. "His options are quite limited as I can see."

Representatives from two of the most prominent secular-leaning political parties, the Free Egyptians Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said the president's office hadn't yet approached them with offers of cabinet posts for any of their members.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders reached on Sunday said they weren't party to negotiations related to cabinet postings.

The Brotherhood appears to be taking steps to become more transparent. The group said on its website Sunday that it would seek recognition as a nongovernmental organization—a move that would open its budget and funding sources to public scrutiny for the first time in its 84-year history.

Local media reported on Sunday that Mr. Morsi has put out feelers for potential ministers in his new cabinet.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Laureate and former presidential hopeful, hasn't made a decision on whether to accept the job of prime minister, reported Al Masry Al Youm, an independent Egyptian daily newspaper.

The newspaper, which quoted unnamed sources close to Mr. Morsi, reported that the new cabinet would be announced within 48 hours.

Among his first official acts as president on Sunday, Mr. Morsi made minor adjustments to a proposed budget drafted by a military-appointed cabinet of ministers, according to Egypt's finance ministry. Details of the budget, which took affect Sunday, the first day of Egypt's fiscal year, haven't been released.

Mr. Morsi moved to increase spending on pensions and salaries for administrative workers, the finance ministry said.

The limited changes reflected the lack of options facing a president whose authority remains tightly constrained by the ruling military. FJP delegates in Egypt's parliament had loudly protested the draft budget for its lack of clarity.

Parliamentarians were still arguing over the budget when Egypt's high court moved to dissolve the legislature in June, in a ruling some Brotherhood leaders condemned as a prelude to a military coup. The generals have since assumed all legislative authority—including power over the state purse.

Yet in three separate speeches Saturday, Mr. Morsi lavished praise on a military leadership and justice system who once swore loyalty to Mr. Morsi's predecessor, ousted President Hosni Mubarak and have recently acted to rein in Mr. Morsi's authority even before he took office.

But the speeches also contained polite assertions of Mr. Morsi's presidential authority.

"The SCAF have fulfilled their promises and the oath that they made, to not be an alternative to popular will," Mr. Morsi said before an audience at Cairo University that included the ruling generals, referring to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. "The great Egyptian army can now return to its role, protecting the borders of our nation."