Egypt's parliament approved in a plenary session on Sunday the appointment of four new ministers and two deputy ministers, including two women to head the ministries of culture and tourism.
Inas Abdel-Dayem, who will be culture minister, and Rania El-Mashat, who is the new tourism minister, are the first women to head their respective ministries in Egypt's history.
The 58-year-old Abdel-Dayem, who has served as the chairwoman of the Egyptian Opera House since 2012, replaces prominent writer Helmi El-Namnam at the helm of the culture ministry.
Abdel-Dayem, who is an accomplished flutist, graduated from the Cairo Conservatory in 1984 and earned a PhD in classical music from France in 1990.
Meanwhile, Al-Mashat, 42, a well-known economic expert in local and international circles, replaced Yehia Rashed as tourism minister.
Al-Mashat, who is a graduate of the American University in Cairo, holds a PhD in economics from the University of Maryland.
She has previously served as sub-governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and head of the bank's Monetary Policy Department, a member of the board of the stock market, and an advisor with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Sunday's list of appointees also includes Abu Bakr El-Guindi as the new minister of local development and Khaled Mohamed Ali Badawi as minister of the public sector.
El-Guindi, the former head of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, replaced Hesham El-Sharif, while Badawi replaced Ashraf El-Sharkawi.
Bawadi, born in 1970, holds a PhD from Cairo University's Faculty of Economics and Political Science. “Badawi is currently working as the executive director of Al-Ahli Capital group and has a distinguished experience in business administration,” said parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Aal during the session.
Additionally, Assem El-Gazzar and Tarek Mohamed Tawfik Amin were appointed deputy minister of housing and deputy minister of health, respectively.
El-Gazzar holds a PhD in urban planning and currently serves as deputy head of the Urban Planning Authority under the ministry of housing.
Amin holds a PhD in public health and currently the manager of the National Population Council.
At the onset of the session, speaker Abdel-Aal announced that Article 147 of the Egyptian constitution grants the president the power to invoke a limited cabinet reshuffle after consulting with the prime minister and gaining the approval of a majority of attending MPs, with no less than one-third (200 MPs).
Abdel-Aal also said Article 129 of parliament’s internal bylaws states that “once a cabinet reshuffle is submitted by the president, parliament should vote on it during the next session, so that MPs can approve or reject it as a whole without making changes, and that the president will be informed of parliament’s decision.”
Sunday's reshuffle is the fourth in the three-year government of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, who was appointed in September 2015.
A reshuffle in March 2016 resulted in 11 new appointees, followed by another in February 2017 that resulted in four new cabinet ministers.
Support among MPs for Sunday's move was not unanimous.
Parliament’s leftist 25-30 group issued a critical statement, describing the reshuffle as “unjustifiable.”
“Nobody knows why some ministers were fired and why others were kept in place,” the 14-member group said.
"We believe that this is not the right time for a cabinet reshuffle because it comes just three months ahead of the presidential election scheduled for March and April, which will be followed by a comprehensive reshuffle," the statement read.
Opponents said the change should be in policies rather than in cabinet ministers. “We reject the policies of Sherif Ismail’s government which is implementing the IMF’s orders, in addition to the devaluation of the Egyptian pound which led to a skyrocketing rise in food prices and costs of living conditions for the majority of Egyptians,” read the statement.