Egypt swears in 10 new ministers ahead of IMF loan talks

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi inducted an economist as his new finance minister as he undertook a major cabinet reshuffle.

Cairo: Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi Sunday inducted an economist as his new finance minister as he undertook a major cabinet reshuffle, aimed primary at resurrecting a tottering economy, on the eve of a visit by an IMF delegation for talks over a USD 4.8-billion loan.
With the cabinet reshuffle, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood signaled a further strengthening of control over the government. Three of the new ministers inducted today hail from the Islamist party, taking the total number of Brotherhood ministers in the cabinet to eight.
The new Minister of Finance will be El-Morsi Hegazy, a specialist in Islamic finance and an economics professor at the University of Alexandria. Hegazi replaces Mumtaz al-Said, who headed the negotiations with IMF on the loan. The loan talks with IMF stalled during a period of intense political unrest in December.

According to an IMF statement, Masood Ahmed, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department, will visit Egypt tomorrow to hold talks with Egyptian authorities. Egypt has requested a USD 4.8 billion loan from the IMF to tide over the current economic crisis in the unrest-hit country.

Gen Mohamed Ibrahim has been appointed as the Interior Minister. He replaces Ahmed Gamal al-Din.

Eight other portfolios -- transport, electricity, domestic development, civil aviation, the environment, communications, supply and domestic trade and parliamentary affairs -- also changed hands. Most of these portfolios are related to the economy.

Egypt`s currency has lost about 10 per cent of its value against the US dollar since the start of 2011, just before the Arab Spring unrest spread in the country and led to the down fall of Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for nearly 30 years.

Egypt`s currency reserves also shrunk last week as the Central Bank held its fourth auction of foreign currency.

Constituent Assembly on November 30 in a marathon session approved a draft constitution imposing Islamic values on the country, a move opposed by Liberals who see it as an attempt to restrict freedom of speech and religion in the country, and sparked widespread violence on the streets.

Egypt`s post revolution constitution was adopted last month after voters approved it in a two-stage referendum.


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