Would-be prime minister no stranger to Egyptian government

This file picture dated January 6, 1996 shows Egypt's former premier Kamal Ganzouri speaking at a press conference in Cairo.

Story highlights

  • Kamal Ganzouri was an Egyptian deputy prime minister in the late 1980s
  • In 1996, President Hosni Mubarak appointed him as Egypt's prime minister
  • Political leaders criticized Ganzouri after he left office in 1999, state media says
  • A military spokesman says Ganzouri has agreed to become prime minister again

Shortly after Kamal Ganzouri stepped down as prime minister more than a decade ago, Egypt's state-run al-Ahram newspaper ran a story in which various party and government officials accused him of being arrogant, autocratic and corrupt.

Neither those portrayals, however, nor the fact Ganzouri was appointed and served three years under deposed President Hosni Mubarak spelled the end of the economist's political career.

In fact, he now appears set to take on his old role at one of the most tumultuous, momentous times in modern Egyptian history.

On Thursday, military spokesman Lt. Col. Amr Imam told CNN that Ganzouri, 81, had agreed -- after meeting with Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, field marshal of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Egypt's dominant figure since Mubarak's ouster in February -- to become Egypt's prime minister once again.

If he can put together a government, Ganzouri will complete a resurgence that might have seemed unlikely after he left office in 1999.

The next April, al-Ahram noted criticisms levied at Ganzouri -- from then-parliamentary speaker Fathi Sorour, Mubarak's chief of staff Zakaria Azmi and several members of parliament -- tied to his handling of financial and other matters during his three years as prime minister.

For instance, Sorour claimed that Ganzouri had excessively issued military orders, citing his role as military governor, under emergency law. Sorour called such orders "a clear infringement of the assembly's legislative mandate," according to the al-Ahram report.

    And Ayman Nour, a member of the then-minority and liberal Wafd party, blasted what he described as Ganzouri's authoritarian actions as a "flagrant infringement of the constitution and parliament's authority," in the same al-Ahram story.

    Still, the fact that Tantawi apparently approached Ganzouri about the prime minister's job suggests that -- more than 11 years later -- military leaders today have a high opinion of him.

    He has online supporters as well, including a Facebook page with 653 "likes" as of Thursday night and filled with comments suggesting that he is the best person to lead Egypt.

    Besides his economic background at a time of continued financial crisis in Egypt, Ganzouri would bring a wealth of government experience to the job.

    Starting in 1987, he served as a deputy prime minister. In 1996, Mubarak appointed Ganzouri as prime minister after Atek Sedki resigned after nine years in that position.