Saturday, July 23, 2011

The dissolution of the Antiquities ministry

For a general update about the current state of the cabinet reshuffle see Shaden Shehab's report on Al Ahram Weekly.

Al Masry Al Youm (Mohamed Azouz)

A bold statement from the new head of the SCA.

No one has been named to replace the previous and only minister to ever run the ministry, Zahi Hawass. Before the January uprising, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which Hawass also headed, functioned as Egypt's highest antiquities body and stationed under the Ministry of Culture.

The current secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, supports abolishing the ministry and turning it into a council controlled by the cabinet.

"Antiquities do not need a minister. Egypt's antiquity sector's policies are regulated by the Law 117/1983, which grants it sovereignty," Abdel Maqsoud told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

He explained that the antiquities sector funds itself independently and does not need government allocations, noting that its revenue covers expenditures.

Youm 7 (Wael El-Samari)

Thanks to Briam Alm for this link.

Egypt’s Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs was not listed in the details of this week’s cabinet reshuffle. Apparently, its absence is explained by a contradiction between the ministry’s formation and the existing antiquities law.

In a surprising revelation, Egyptian law regarding the protection of antiquities does not recognize the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs. The law still stipulates that all decisions taken are the responsibility of the Minister of Culture, not the Minister of Antiquities.

Thus, technically, all decisions made by former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass are null and void.

New York Times (Kate Taylor)

Egypt’s antiquities department has been downgraded from a ministry to a cabinet-affiliated office, according to the Los Angeles Times, which cited an Egyptian cabinet spokesman Thursday. The announcement came after a new Cabinet was sworn in that did not include an antiquities minister. Egypt’s antiquities agency had been elevated to a ministry by the former president, Hosni Mubarak, in the last days of his rule; previously it had been under the Ministry of Culture. It still remained unclear, however, who the government intends to appoint to run the office. Last Sunday, officials said the prime minister, Essam Sharaf, planned to replace Zahi Hawass, the longtime antiquities chief, as part of a cabinet reshuffling aimed at appeasing protesters.

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