Egypt's military rulers picked a prime minister from ousted leader Hosni Mubarak's era to head the next government, according to state television, a choice that will almost certainly intensify criticism by tens of thousands of protesters accusing the generals of trying to extend the old guard and demanding they step down immediately.
Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and was deputy prime minister and planning minister before that. He also was a provincial governor under the late President Anwar Sadat.
"Illegitimate, illegitimate!" chanted the crowds at Cairo's central Tahrir Square on hearing news of el-Ganzouri's appointment.
"Not only was he prime minister under Mubarak, but also part of the old regime for a total of 18 years," said protester Mohammed el-Fayoumi, 29. "Why did we have a revolution then?"
The announcement followed a meeting late Thursday between el-Ganzouri and senior military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. Tantawi was Mubarak's defense minister of 20 years and served in the government headed by el-Ganzouri.
El-Ganzouri will replace Essam Sharaf, who resigned this week after nearly nine months in office amid deadly clashes between police and protesters calling for the military to immediately step down.
Sharaf was criticized for being weak and beholden to the generals. The television announcement said el-Ganzouri will enjoy "authority," but did not elaborate.
El-Ganzouri's appointment was likely to deepen the anger of the protesters, already seething over the military's perceived reluctance to dismantle the legacy of Mubarak's 29-year rule.
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