Egypt’s new cabinet ministers sworn in

Egypt’s government has sworn in 10 new ministers in a shuffle of the Cabinet aimed at mapping out ways of handling of the country’s struggling economy.

The top posts that changed hands on Sunday were the ministers of finance and interior, which handles the police.

The shake-up comes as a delegation of International Monetary Fund officials prepares to meet Egyptian authorities on Monday to discuss a $4.8bn loan and painful economic restructuring.

Presidential officials said the portfolios of transport, electricity and local development were now led by members of President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Morsi met the new ministers after their swearing in and discussed ways to revive tourism and attract foreign investors.

Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said the president and prime ministers had been talking abou the reshuffle for sometime.

The surprise was the sacking of the interior minister, she said, adding that he had been blamed for failing to bring the security situation under control, with the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood being torched by protesters.

The state-run MENA news agency said on Saturday it had learned that Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said, a key point man in talks with the IMF loan, would be replaced by economist El-Morsi El-Sayed Hegazy.

Interior Minister Ahmed Gamaleddin will be replaced by police General Mohammed Ibrahim, currently one of his deputies who is in charge of prisons, a ministry source said.

According to cabinet sources, at least three of the new ministers are from Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party, the
political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood group.

“The Brotherhood new ministers are the ones handling the portfolios of transport, local development and supplies,” one
cabinet source said.

The IMF said it was sending its Middle East and Central Asia director, Masood Ahmed, to discuss the postponed loan agreement and “possible IMF support for Egypt”.

Loan talks were delayed last month at Cairo’s behest because of unrest in which 11 people died and hundreds were injured in anti-Morsi protests.

A spokesman for the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, said the group was still studying the new
appointments and would give its reaction to the moves later.

Egypt’s opposition youth group, April Six, said in a statement that the changes were not enough and “will not solve
[Egypt’s problems]”.

Most opposition groups had asked for the whole cabinet to be sacked and replaced by one that would include more technocrats representing all political parties.

President Morsi said on December 26 he would reshuffle the government led by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, following the approval in a referendum of a new constitution for Egypt.

He said the aim of the reshuffle would be to tackle the country’s troubled economy with its rising budget deficit and falling national currency, the Egyptian pound.

Two ministers have already stepped down since late December, in a sign of divisions within the ranks of Qandil’s cabinet.
Mohammed Mahsoub, the legal and parliamentary affairs minister, quit on December 27, two days after communications minister Hany Mahmud.

Courtesy: Al Jazeera News Wire

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