Monday, 31 January 2011

Mubarak reshuffles cabinet amid demonstrations

The ongoing protests and mounting pressure from the angry protesters have prompted Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to reshuffle his cabinet. The country's Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, and Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali , both reviled by the protestors, have been replaced. It is unlikely, however, that the protests will subside unless Mubarak is ousted.

The protestors, on the streets in Cairo in their tens of thousands, have called a large-scale strike on Tuesday 1st February. In a bid to appease the angry crowds Mubarak has ordered the new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to put in place democratic reforms and create employment opportunities.

Adly has been replaced by an army general, Mahmud Wagdi, and Samir Mohammad Radwan becomes finance minister. Radwan said he had a "national mission at a very critical time". Several businessmen holding economic posts have also been removed, evidently to appease the Egyptian people who have resented the influence of the tycoons.

It is generally thought, however, that the reshuffle is not enough to placate the Egyptian people, as the new line-up is not radical enough with both with Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Defence Minister Gen Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who is also the new deputy PM, both keeping their jobs.

Egypt has been in turmoil for over a week; with demonstrators clearly united as they remain on Tahrir Square, while military helicopters circle overhead. The army is heavily present on the streets and at military checkpoints. The country's opposition is calling on the Egyptian people to take to the streets in their millions to maintain the pressure on Mubarak's administration. There seems to have been some discord, however, amid the opposition, with the largest group, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), appearing to go back on its endorsement of leading figure Mohamed El Baradei as a negotiator with Mubarak.

A spokesman for the MB, Mohamed Morsy, told the BBC: "The Muslim Brotherhood is much stronger than Mohamed El Baradei as a person. And we do not agree on he himself to become representing [sic] this movement, the movement is represented by itself, and it will come up with a committee... to make delegations with any government."

Sources: Ha'aretz, FT, WSJ, BBC News

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

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