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Egypt's cabinet reshuffle focuses on economy, strengthens Islamist inclination


08:12, May 08, 2013

CAIRO, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi swore in nine new ministers in a partial cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, including some key economic portfolios.

Morsi described the reshuffle as a new step to complete the development of the public performance in Egypt and aims at injecting new blood to improve the standards of services provided to citizens.

In a presidential statement, he urged citizens to give an opportunity to the reshuffled government to work on meeting their demands and to face up to the challenges.


The reshuffle brings more Islamist-oriented members into the cabinet, including Finance Minister Fayyad Abdel-Monem Hassanin, a professor of economics at Al-Azhar University, and Minister of International Cooperation and Planning, Amr Darrag, who is a senior member of Muslim Brotherhood (MB)'s political arm the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

Both ministries are important in handling negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a 4.8-billion-U.S dollar rescue loan which is believed to be crucial to the revival of Egypt's ailing economy.

New faces in the 35-member cabinet also include Investment Minister Yahya Hamed, a MB member; Ahmed al-Gizawi, an FJP member which will lead the Agriculture Ministry; and Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Sherif Hadara, an engineer believed to have close ties with the MB's group.


The reshuffle, the second major one since Morsi named Hesham Qandil's government last August, "focused on the economic groups," Qandil said in a press conference, deeming that "a stage featured by political stability will help any government to accomplish achievements."

"Now you farewell sleeping," Qandil quoted a statement by Morsi as telling his new ministers.

Egypt faces the challenge of building its institutions without waiting for foreign aids, Qandil said. "The government is working to tackle the problems with firm, strength and keen to find practical solutions," he said.

Essam al-Erian, deputy chief of the FJP, told Al Jazeera's news channel that the aim of the reshuffle is to "confront the economic crisis and to conclude the agreement with the IMF with a new vision, and to confront the energy crises."

The interior minister survived the reshuffle despite harsh criticism against him from the opposition.

"Despite remarks over the performance of the interior ministry, the security level is getting achieved gradually," Qandil said, while admitting that this sector needs more time for more improvements.


The main opposition bloc National Salvation Front (NSF) has been demanding a neutral government from Morsi and has asked for replacing the pro-MB prosecutor general before the parliamentary elections that are expected to be held in October.

As for the reshuffle, the opposition sees it as a step further toward more Islamist domination of the government.

"They control the government more and more and the MB process is going on, and this means they intend to commit electoral fraud in the coming parliamentary elections," Refaat el-Saeed, a member of the NSF, told Xinhua.

"We reject domination of the MB and their control over the society, as this cabinet reshuffle puts everything in the hands of the MB's guidance office," Saeed said.

Saeed, a former leader of the leftist Tagammu Party, said anti- government protests will not stop.

"The interior minister, who should have been changed, remains in office and the minister of supply who provides the MB with supplies to win votes should have been changed, but he is still there," he said.

For his part, Amr Moussa, a leading member of the NSF, said the new cabinet reshuffle is a new step toward "comprehensive MB domination" of the country.

"The reshuffle does not add anything new and it will need to be changed in the short run," Moussa said in a statement on Tuesday.

"There must be a national unity government with high qualifications and to be trusted with the people," Moussa said.

It would have been better, if the reshuffle could be a step toward "national consensus" rather than "domination," he said.

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