Thursday, March 5, 2015

Egypt replaces 8 ministers in surprise cabinet reshuffle

Interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim among eight ministers replaced in cabinet reshuffle

Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar

Newly-appointed interior minster Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, left, is sworn in in front of President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi, right, at the presidential palace in Cairo

Egypt has replaced eight ministers in a surprise cabinet reshuffle ahead of next week’s investment summit.

Interior minister Ibrahim will be replaced by Major-General Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, a leading figure in the National Security Apparatus. 

Ibrahim has been appointed security advisor to the prime minister. 

The other new ministers are Salah El-Din Helal for agriculture, Abdel-Wahed El-Nabawi for culture, Moheb El-Rafie for education, Hala Mohamed Youssef for housing, Khaled Ali Negm for communications, Khaled Abbas Rami for tourism and Mohamed Ahmed Yousef for technical education and training.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab confirmed the reshuffle during a press conference for the upcoming economic conference.

He said the eight new ministers had been sworn in earlier on Thursday.

Ibrahim, recently a controversial figure amid what is perceived to be a heavy security crackdown on state opponents, was originally appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in January 2013. He was one of the few ministers to keep his post after the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

Human rights activists and opposition figures have been calling for his dismissal since the death of leftist activist Shaimaa Sabbagh in January 2015.

Egypt has been witnessing an acute security situation since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in summer 2013.

The situation has intensified recently with shootings and bomb attacks occurring at an increasing frequency. They also appear to happen in more civilian areas after months of attacks mainly targeting police and army personnel and facilities, claimed by anti-government militant Islamist groups.

In addition, incidents involving policemen in deadly violence against civilians have increased, drawing wide criticisms. 

The reshuffle comes ahead of Egypt’s anticipated investment summit expected to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh between 13-15 March. Egypt has been hoping to attract investors for its cash-strapped economy. 

The 35-ministry cabinet's last reshuffle took place in June 2014, when 13 ministers were replaced, most of which were not included in Thursday's changes, save for the ministries of agriculture and culture.