Egypt changes finance minister in reshuffle
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Last Updated: Sunday, July 17, 2011, 21:47
  
Cairo: Egypt picked a new finance minister on Sunday as part of a cabinet reshuffle demanded by protesters camped out in central Cairo, and the outgoing minister said policy-making had become "confused."

Samir Radwan, the outgoing minister, will be replaced by Hazem el-Beblawi, who was picked on Saturday as an economic adviser and one of two deputies to Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

"Goodbye. The rest will soon follow," one Egyptian, Mohamed Essam, wrote on the cabinet's website. Another, Abou Hanafy, wrote on Twitter: "Let the season of resignations begin."

Egyptians ended Hosni Mubarak's 30 years in power on February 11, but many are frustrated that the ruling army council has not moved faster to shake up the system and purge the ex-president's officials. Radwan was appointed shortly before Mubarak left.

Sharaf has yet to announce his new cabinet but the ministers of finance, industry and foreign affairs have all now quit. The justice, interior, education, culture and information ministers could stay, the official news agency said.

Sharaf promised a reshuffle as one of several concessions offered by him and the army to placate protesters. But demonstrators have stayed in Cairo's Tahrir Square since July 8 and also protested in other cities, increasingly directing their anger at the army.

An army general, Tarek el-Mahdy, addressed the crowd in Tahrir on Saturday. Witnesses said dozens of angry protesters heckled him to leave the podium.

Radwan, who said he had quit and would be replaced by Beblawi, 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.

Radwan had negotiated a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help cope with a spiraling budget deficit. But after reaching a deal, Egypt said in June it no longer needed the money.

Sharaf has yet to announce his new cabinet but the ministers of finance, industry and foreign affairs have all now quit. The justice, interior, education, culture and information ministers could stay, the official news agency said.

Sharaf promised a reshuffle as one of several concessions offered by him and the army to placate protesters. But demonstrators have stayed in Cairo's Tahrir Square since July 8 and also protested in other cities, increasingly directing their anger at the army.

An army general, Tarek el-Mahdy, addressed the crowd in Tahrir on Saturday. Witnesses said dozens of angry protesters heckled him to leave the podium.

Radwan, who said he had quit and would be replaced by Beblawi, 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.

Radwan had negotiated a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help cope with a spiraling budget deficit. But after reaching a deal, Egypt said in June it no longer needed the money.


First Published: Sunday, July 17, 2011, 21:47


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