After Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend tendered his resignation Sunday night, media outlets began guessing who might fill a position that has seen four ministers come and go since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected in 2014.
Zend was reportedly asked to resign after he made incendiary comments regarding the Prophet Mohamed on a local talk show. Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Magdy al-Agaty will serve as charge d’affaires until Zend’s successor is sworn-in, the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Monday.
The Lawyers Syndicate issued a statement Monday advocating for syndicate head Sameh Ashour as Zend’s replacement.
“You have tried out judges in this sensitive position for 60 years, and the nation is still in crisis,” the statement argued. A lawyer might be better able to resolve some of the issues that have plagued the judiciary system, the syndicate suggested, such as sluggish courts, a complex legal system and obstacles that impede lawyers from becoming judges.
But local media outlets have tossed out different names as the top contenders, all of them judges — such as Mohamed Reda Shawkat, the former head of the Cairo Court of Appeals. Shawkat oversaw contentious cases such as the trial of Mubarak-era steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, who was accused of squandering public funds. Ezz walked free after paying LE55 million in bail in August 2014.
Another speculative nominee is Adel al-Shorbagy, former deputy head of the Court of Cassation and member of the High Elections Commission for the 2015 parliamentary elections. Shorbagy was up for the position in May 2015 following the resignation of Justice Minister Mahfouz Saber, and also vied for the position of prosecutor general following the assassination of Hesham Barakat in June 2015.
Ezzat Khamis has also been named as a contender. Khamis heads the committee tasked with confiscating the Muslim Brotherhood’s financial assets — a committee that has often been accused of politically motivated rulings, such as freezing the assets of football star Mohamed Aboutrika.