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Obituary

Kamal Ganzouri 'Minister of the poor' who helped transform Egypt

Former Egyptian prime minister Kamal Ganzouri died on Wednesday at Cairo’s Air Forces Hospital, succumbing to illness at the age of 88, Egyptian state media reported.

In his eulogy to Ganzouri, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said the country had lost a "unique statesman.

The former prime minister, who helped transform Egypt during a long career in public service, was, he said "a righteous person in Egypt, loyal to its soil and its people".

Ganzouri twice served as Egypt's prime minister, first in 1996 under former president Hosni Mubarak, and again in 2011 under the ruling military council following the Egyptian uprising that toppled Mubarak.

Known as the "minister of the poor" because of his focus on Egypt’s lower-income families while serving as minister of planning and then international cooperation in the 1980s, Ganzouri also served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1986 to 1996.

While his fame in the country rose to new heights when appointed Prime Minister by Mubarak, Ganzouri had already enjoyed a prolific career, holding important positions in public and private sectors.

Ganzouri was Born on January 12, 1933 in Bagour city in Menoufia governorate.

An economist by training, he earned a PhD from Michigan State University in the 1950s before returning to Egypt and teaching at some of its most prominent universities.

He made his first foray into the Egyptian political pantheon when he was appointed governor of the New Valley in 1976, a position he would hold for under a year before becoming the governor of Beni Suef.

Under the regime of Mubarak’s predecessor, Mohamed Anwar el Sadat, Ganzouri was also appointed as director of the National Planning Institute in 1977, following his resignation from the governorship of Beni Suef. He would hold this position for just under 5 years before being appointed as minister of planning in 1982, a year after Mubarak became president.

Former parliament speaker Ahmad Fathy Sorour told The National that Ganzouri was "a nationalist of the highest order."

“Dr Ganzouri was one of the most creative and steadfast policymakers Egypt has ever seen,” he said. “His achievements speak for themselves. He was a direct and resolute man, may God rest his soul.”

epa09108123 (FILE) - Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri (C) greets people after casting his ballot during Egypt's parliamentary elections, outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, 28 November 2011 (reissued 31 March 2021). Former Egyptian prime minister Kamal Ganzouri died in Cairo on 31 March 2021 at the age of 88. Ganzouri served as prime minister for two terms beterrn 1996 to 1999 and between 2011 to 2012.  EPA/AHMED KHALED *** Local Caption *** 50147810

Ganzouri’s first term as Prime Minister has been widely touted as one of the most active periods in Egypt’s political history.

Under his leadership, Egypt’s cabinet operated at break-neck speed. He helped introduce some 387 new laws in his first, 3-year stint as prime minister, many of which sought to reshape an economy dependent on national projects in the Nile valley.

Ganzouri was one of the main proponents of launching national projects outside the Nile valley, seeking to make better use of Egypt’s less-charted areas, most importantly its desert regions, which remain widely uninhabited to this day.

In 2011, Ganzouri was yet again appointed prime minister by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power in an interim capacity before the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, who became president in 2012.

He was chosen for the role in an attempt to quell a power struggle between police and protesters, who demanded the military immediately hand power over to a civilian authority.

Protesters largely rejected Ganzouri’s appointment, arguing that he was too entwined with Mubarak-era institutions to meet protester's demands for a reformed Egypt.

He served in the role for less than a year, resigning in June 2012 after Morsi’s election.

Kamal Tabikha

Kamal Tabikha

Kamal is one of The National’s correspondents in Cairo. He has over six years of experience working as a reporter for Al Masry Al Youm, Egypt Independent, Nile Radio Productions and Cairo Scene. His experience includes translation, field reporting, research and creative writing. He is also proficient in three languages.