mentioned in the previous chapter, Abdel Khaleq Tharwat Pasha resigned
his Premiership mainly because of the unrest all over Egypt, caused
by the arrest and exile of Saad Zaghloul Pasha; another important
reason behind that resignation is the Palace intrigues and manipulation
carried on by Mohammad Tawfiq Nasim Pasha, a notorious courtesan
of King Fouad and Chief of the Royal Cabinet. The King did
not hesitate a second in accepting the resignation of Tharwat Pasha
and asked, the next day, Nasim Pasha to form a new Cabinet.
the members of his team, the new Prime Minister took only one thing into
consideration their loyalty to himself and to the Monarch. Knowledge
and efficiency were of no importance since the only program of the new
Government was, as Historian Abdel-Rahman El Rafii put it in his
Chronicles of the political life in Egypt during and after 1919, to please
and blindly obey the King.
for Egypt, the Government of Nasim Pasha was short lived.
It lasted seventy-one days during which nothing was achieved. The
country was still in turmoil, its national leaders were either under arrest
or living in exile and more foreign employees and British Nationals were
mobbed and some of them killed; the Country was still under martial law
and its appointed leaders did not raise a finger to negotiate with the
occupying authorities the release of Saad Pasha and his associates.
the end, it was the extreme and blind loyalty to the King that caused the
fall of the Nasim Pasha Cabinet. The Committee that was formed
Tharwat Pasha, the former Prime Minister, to write a new Constitution
for Egypt, granted King Fouad the title of King Of Egypt
And The Sudan. The British High Commissioner objected to that
title claiming that it contradicts the text and spirit of the February
28 Declaration, which removed the Protectorate over Egypt and recognized
its independence. Furthermore the British Forces, in a show of force
and determination, carried on some military demonstration in Alexandria
and Port Said to underline the seriousness of their objection.
Stuck between his loyalty to his King and his fear of a British
reaction, Nasim Pasha presented the resignation of his Cabinet to
the King who reluctantly accepted it.
well over a month the Country survived without a Cabinet with civilian
unrest and incidents of assassinations multiplying. Military Governors
were appointed for Cairo and Gizeh and, as a result of the
killing of a British Subject in Jeziret Badran, the Cairo Military
imposed a fine of six hundred pounds on the population of
that district. Another one hundred and eighty pounds fine was imposed
on the same district when another killing was perpetrated in the same district.
Public meetings were strictly prohibited in both Cairo and Gizeh
British troops forced their way into Saad Pasha s home (the
Home Of The Nation), ordered his wife and assistants out and confiscated
all of Saad Pasha s files and personal documents and papers.
the Constitution Committee finalized its work (1) and rumors
were running wild that some articles of the Constitution were secretly
manipulated and its announcement postponed to an indeterminate period,
which increased the popular unrest. Fearing that the situation could
well get out of control, the British Authorities hinted that it could recall
Saad Pasha and his Associates from their exile or jail and present
other concessions to calm down the population and to strengthen the hand
of whatever new Cabinet the King might appoint; only then did King
Fouad recommend to the British High Commissioner the appointment of
Ibrahim Pasha, the Minister Of Education in the previous Nasim Pasha
Cabinet, as his new Prime Minister. The King based his choice
on the presumption that Ibrahim Pasha, like his previous boss, would
be easily manipulated. The British High Commissioner seconded the
King s choice.
Cabinet Minister, and last Premier before the 1923 Constitution.
Born in Bahbashin, a village near Beni Suef, Ibrahim was
educated at the main Coptic College In Cairo and the Khedivial Law
School where he later taught. He translated a French book on administration
in 1885. He became a Judge in the Alexandria National Court
1888 and later in Zaqaziq and Beni Suef, and in 1907 he became the President
of the National Court Of Appeals. His Cabinet posts included Education
in (1919 1920 and 1922 1923), Premier and Interior Minister
(1923 1924) and Finance (1925 1926). As Education
Minister he sought to reduce illiteracy by establishing twenty-two night
schools for workers. While he was Prime Minister the 1923 Constitution
and the Election Law were promulgated and Saad Zaghloul was allowed
to return from exile. Ibrahim was the first President of the
Party in 1925. Although well intentioned, he could not
withstand the pressure from either King Fouad or the British Residency
to execute the policies that they wanted (2).
Fouad handpicked all the Cabinet Ministers to serve under Ibrahim Pasha,
claiming that his choice was uniquely based on support of the February
28 declaration. The Cabinet was sworn in with the King believing
that it would be a rubber stamp Cabinet that would fulfill all his wishes,
while the British Authorities felt that the Cabinet would be an administrative
one, composed of technocrats who would run the show as efficiently as possible
until the Country gets out of the impasse in which it fell with the resignation
of the Nasim Pasha Cabinet.
King and High Commissioner were wrong. From day one, Ibrahim
Pasha showed and proved to all that he was his own man and that he
would soon announce the publication of the new Constitution and the promulgation
of the election law. To appease the Brits he promised to legislate
all the decisions, administrative, military and judiciary, adopted by the
Military Authorities under the martial law. It was obvious that the
Brits were satisfied by that decision and, in return, the London Government
announced its decision to call back Saad Zaghloul Pasha from exile
and to liberate all his associates. Furthermore, the British High
Commissioner announced the end of the martial law under which Egyptians
lived for many years.
the main and most important achievement of the Cabinet was its publication,
April 19, 1923, of the new Constitution which declared that Egypt
be, from that date on, an Independent Nation and a Constitutional Monarchy
with separate Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Powers. Needless
to say that King Fouad, who was dreaming of Absolute Power, something
similar to the Divine Right of the Middle Ages Potentates, did his best
to stop the implementation of the Constitution or at least to change some
of its articles in such a way as to enhance his power, but all his vehement
requests fell on deaf ears. In fact, the Belgian Constitution,
which mostly inspired the 1923 new Constitution, was then (and is
still now) a Constitutional Monarchy. Unfortunately for Egypt,
the New Constitution that adopted the form of the Belgian one omitted to
adopt its spirit and in future years, the King recuperated many
of the powers making a mockery of the words Constitutional Monarchy.
Less than a decade later, that same King would abolish the 1923
Constitution rewriting one to his own liking.
important Cabinet decision was the adoption of a new Egyptian flag.
Gone was the red flag with a white crescent and star, which was replaced
by a green flag with a white crescent and three stars.
The respect of the new flag was to be enforced by a law that would punish
any disrespect with a six month in jail and/or a fifty pounds fine.
Cabinet agreed that public employees working hours were inadequate and
changed them into a six days a week work, from 08.00 hour to 12.30 and
from 15.30 to 18.00 hour for the period from September 16 to May 15
(winter hours), and from 08.00 to 14.30 hour in the summer time from
16 to September 15. It also decided to give each Cabinet Minister
the monthly amount of forty pounds, which would cover their transportation
costs. Another well-inspired Cabinet decision was to replace the
retiring foreign employees in the Public Services by Egyptian ones.
Cabinet promulgated the election law for the first time ever and, on September
27, 1923, the Egyptian people were invited to vote for their representatives.
The voting day was declared a day off work thus enabling all salaried employees
to fulfill their national duty. The Cabinet voted an amount of six
thousands and five hundred pounds to finish the Construction of the Parliament
building, and an extra amount of two thousands and five hundred pounds
to prepare the Senate meeting hall.
can speak for the fairness and integrity of the Ibrahim Pasha Cabinet
than the result of the election that took place. Of the two hundred
and fourteen seats of the House Of Deputies, the Wafd Party Candidates
obtained one hundred and ninety five seats, which is over ninety percent
of the seats. Yahya Ibrahim Pasha, the Prime Minister and
Minister of Interior, who was a Candidate for his district of Minya-Al-Qamh,
lost his seat to the Wafd Party Candidate; what more could be said!!!
17, 1924, Ibrahim Pasha presented the resignation of his Cabinet
to the King. In the resignation letter he underlined the importance
to the Country of the fair election that he supervised; he added that he
would have liked to stay long enough to also supervise the Senate election
but the people of Egypt have spoken and their will should be respected.
After ten days of hesitation, King Fouad
accepted the Cabinet resignation
on January 27, 1924.
(to be continued)
Kamal Karim Katba