Egypt’s new cabinet to be sworn in after protests


Egypt’s new cabinet will be sworn in after a reshuffle that protesters said had partially satisfied their demands for deeper political and economic reforms.

A core of protesters, who have camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square since July 8, said they wanted further measures, including a quicker trial of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted as president on February 11 in a popular uprising.

Mubarak’s lawyer said the former president, who has been in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April, had slipped into coma, but hospital officials and the deputy health minister denied the report, Reuters reports.

Protesters in Tahrir, the centre of uprising, unfurled a huge banner on Sunday that read: “Mubarak must stand trial.”

He is due to appear in court on August 3 charged with abuse of power and killing of protesters. Many Egyptians think the military wants to find ways to avoid humiliating their former commander in public.

The new ministers would take the oath of office on Monday in front of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, leader of the military council that took control of Egypt after Mubarak’s resignation, the state news agency MENA said.

Tantawi was defence minister under Mubarak for two decades.

The military council has promised a parliamentary election in September with a presidential vote to follow.

At least 15 ministers, or more than half the cabinet, are being replaced, including those for foreign affairs, finance, military production and trade and industry.

State media said the interior minister, Mansour el-Essawy, was expected to remain. He announced an unprecedented shake-up of top police officers last week in response to criticism of the way police handled the uprising.
“Our problem is with the way the police force works, not with the personalities,” said Ahmed Maher of the April 6 movement, one of the groups driving the protests.

Among the new ministers are Mohamed Kamel Amr, who replaces Foreign Minister Mohammed el-Orabi, and Hazem el-Beblawi, a 74-year-old adviser at the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund, who replaces Finance Minister Samir Radwan. Orabi had held his post for less than a month.

Radwan told Reuters the policy-making situation had become “confused” and he believed it best to “leave the way for somebody to handle it in a consistent and coherent manner.”
“People don’t know what they want. Do they want increased expenditure and no borrowing from abroad? Everybody has suddenly become an expert on financial policy. That is not an atmosphere conducive to efficient work,” Radwan said.

He had negotiated a $3 billion (1 billion pounds) loan from the International Monetary Fund to help cope with a spiralling budget deficit. But after he signed the deal, the military council scrapped it.