by Shaimaa Behery
CAIRO, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Echoing the contradictory statements issued by some Egyptian state officials over the fate of the current cabinet of Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, which the opposition demanded to dismiss, observers' speculations have diverged between "imminent reshuffle" and "inevitable survival."
The recent statements of Egypt's presidency and cabinet conflicted with one another as a presidential source told a local newspaper Sunday that President Mohamed Morsi "does not mind" a cabinet reshuffle, while cabinet's spokesman Alaa al-Hadidi reaffirmed Tuesday that cabinet sacking or reshuffle "was not even under discussion."
Noha Bakr, a political science professor at the American University in Cairo, said the recent contradictory official statements reflected the presidency's "reluctant" position over sacking the current cabinet, predicting three scenarios for the government's fate.
"The cabinet will either be sacked and replaced by a mini government with limited number of ministries headed by the president, or be reshuffled including some liberal figures with little harmony with the presidency such as head of Ghad al-Thawra Party Ayman Nour, or be sacked and replaced by a new one headed by Nour himself," Bakr said.
She told Xinhua that the first option would be "a fatal mistake " because if a government headed by the president failed, it would mean the failure of the president himself.
"The consecutive problems about fuel, bread, and police strike the state is currently facing along with the opposition's pressure will inevitably lead to at least a reshuffle," Bakr speculated.
Nour, who has recently played a role of mediator between the presidency and the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF), the main opposition umbrella combining more than 30 civil parties, was quoted by state-run al-Ahram Newspaper Tuesday as saying that he expected the cabinet to be sacked "within days."
Disagreeing with Bakr, Tarek al-Senouty, the head of the political department at Ahram newspaper, believed that the president "will keep adhering to Qandil's government."
"The president's vision toward the events doesn't related to any developments in the political arena, and he is keen on keeping Qandil's government that is loyal to his regime, believing that the three or four months before the elections won't be enough chance to the new cabinet to make changes or to fulfill achievements," Senouty said, describing such vision as "narrow- minded."
Last week, local newspapers reported the president's advisor for legal affairs Fouaad Gadallah would mediate between the presidency and the opposition to make an agreement over the five candidates for the prime minister's deputies, from whom the presidency would choose two figures.
Gadallah saw such mediation would present a "compromise," as the presidency is sticking by Qandil's government while the opposition insisting on forming a coalition cabinet.
Political expert with al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Saeed Lawindi, expected such attempt to "fail." However, Lawindi believed that if all political forces staged demonstrations and urged to dismiss the cabinet, the presidency " might" respond.
Salafists Nour Party, Egypt's second largest Islamic party after the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), is currently calling the different political parties to open a comprehensive dialogue to discuss the current political situation.