Egyptian protesters gather at Tahrir Square in Cairo yesterday. Some political groups decided to move their sit-in from Tahrir Square to outside the Cabinet building on Qasr Al Aini Street to protest against the new government led by Kamal Ganzouri. Image Credit: EPA

Cairo: The new Egyptian government headed by Kamal Ganzouri, a veteran economy expert, was sworn in yesterday as dozens of protesters gathered in central Cairo vowing not to allow the new premier into the cabinet headquarters.

The 29-member government, including 17 newcomers, took the constitutional oath in front of Hussain Tantawi, Egypt's de facto military ruler, 11 days after the military junta picked Ganzouri for the job.

The announcement of the government line-up had been delayed more than once over naming an interior minister. Ganzouri kept the name secret until a few minutes before the swearing-in ceremony. General Mohammad Ebrahim Yousuf, a former security chief, was selected for the post. His appointment comes two weeks after clashes between police and anti-military protests in Egypt that left 44 dead.

Presidential powers

Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister under former president Hosni Mubarak for three years starting from 1996. The new government comprises three women named for the portfolios of international cooperation, insurance and scientific research. Ganzouri said on Tuesday seven young people will be appointed as aides to some government ministers.

The ruling military council yesterday decreed granting Al Ganzouri presidential powers, except for those related to the army and the judiciary.

As the government's members were sworn in at the headquarters of the Defence Ministry in eastern Cairo, 11 protest groups announced joining demonstrators who have been picketing outside the cabinet building near Tahrir Square to prevent Ganzouri from entering it. The protesters see Ganzouri as part of the Mubarak regime.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces delegated presidential powers to Kamal Ganzouri according to the law, but not the armed forces and the judiciary," the official Mena news agency reported.

Extending gains

Meanwhile, Egypt's top Islamist party said yesterday it had extended its gains in the first elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, amid fresh warnings about the sinking economy from the country's caretaker premier.

The Muslim Brotherhood, banned for decades until the toppling of Mubarak in February, said its Freedom and Justice Party had won 36 out of 54 individual seats in the first phase of the multi-stage parliamentary polls.

In a separate party vote, which will see more than 100 seats distributed, it won 36.6 per cent while the hardline Islamic fundamentalist party Al Nour came second with 24.4 per cent.