Egypt to reshuffle 11 ministers, including oil

Reuters News
Posted: May 06, 2013 11:44 AM
Egypt to reshuffle 11 ministers, including oil

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian prime minister said on Monday that 11 ministers would be changed in a cabinet reshuffle that will include the oil ministry but is expected to fall short of opposition demands for a complete overhaul.

The reshuffle looked set to include at least one member of President Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, though the group's overall share of seats will not be clear until the full line-up is announced.

Mursi announced on April 20 that he would reshuffle a government that has been widely criticized for failing to revive an economy facing a deep crisis because of more than two years of political turmoil.

Opposition criticism of the reshuffle suggested it was unlikely to help build the political consensus the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is seeking for economic reforms needed to secure a $4.8 billion loan.

The reallocation has taken longer than Prime Minister Hisham Kandil originally expected. He said the changes would be announced later on Monday or on Tuesday, before Mursi heads off for a state visit to Brazil. He gave no further details.

But earlier he met Sherif Haddara, chairman of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation. He is expected to take Osama Kamel's job as oil minister, responsible for meeting the fuel needs of the cash-strapped state as summer approaches.

The new cabinet must grapple with an economic crisis that has eroded a tenth of the Egyptian pound's value in the space of four months, draining foreign reserves to critically low levels.

Amr Darrag, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, was nominated for the ministry of higher education, state media reported.

The reshuffle will also include a new minister of agriculture and a new minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs, it reported.

Kandil is expected to name a new justice minister to replace Ahmed Mekky, who resigned last month in protest at efforts by Mursi's Islamist allies to overhaul the judiciary.

The outgoing cabinet comprised 27 ministers and four ministers of state. Eight members of the existing cabinet were affiliated with the Brotherhood.

The opposition had called on Mursi to replace Kandil and install a neutral government to oversee parliamentary elections later this year.

"As long as they don't change the prime minister, we can't see serious change in the cabinet," Khaled Dawoud, spokesman for the National Salvation Front, a loose alliance of non-Islamist parties, said.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Michael Roddy)