Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Zahi Hawass is like Napoleon only he escapes from Saint Helena not just Elba. Yet again, Hawass has managed to hold on to his job even after being fired a second time. (Okay technically he resigned the first time, but let’s just say that was a decision made under considerable political pressure.)
The prime minister announced earlier in the week that Zahi Hawass, the archaeologist known for his National Geographic documentaries and close ties to the Mubarak family, was to be replaced by Abdel Fattah el Banna as minister of antiquities. But Sharaf reversed himself and decided to temporarily keep Hawass in his post.
“Dr. El Banna has accused several of the antiquities employees of corruption and thus triggered much rejection against him holding the position. Essam Sharaf consequently believed that it wouldn’t be appropriate atmosphere for him to work,” the government announced in a statement.
Hawass told MENA on Wednesday that he was asked by Sharaf to carry on his duties but wasn’t mentioned in Thursday’s list of ministers. A Cabinet spokesman later announced that the ministry of antiquities would be downgraded to a Cabinet-affiliated office and not be its own ministry.
The new office will be the same as the old office before Mubarak made it a ministry during a reshuffle during the January turmoil that brought down his regime. So it’s the Supreme Council of Antiquities again now and it reports to the prime minister.
Hawass told the New York Times that he’s only hanging around for a few days until a suitable replacement can be found. He said he’s looking forward to retiring to write books and “living quietly as a private person, away from politics.” Yes I’m sure. Very likely.