Egypt's new Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Although Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has said recently that no cabinet reshuffle is expected at present, informed sources told Al-Ahram Arabic website that Ismail has in fact started to meet potential candidates for ministerial positions.
The sources said that the reshuffle would take place before the government presents its programme to the House of Representatives on 27 March as, according to the constitution, reshuffles should be approved by parliament after that date.
The upcoming reshuffle will include the ministers of finance, investment, irrigation, tourism, civil aviation, education, health, justice, and religious endowments, according to the sources.
The current health minister, Ahmed Emad, is facing dismissal following an ongoing crisis with the Doctors Syndicate, which has threatened strikes in response to alleged police assaults on hospital physicians.
The minister of irrigation and water resources, Hossam Moghazi, is also a candidate for dismissal in light of the current developments in relation to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Hossam Kamel, the minister of civil aviation, may be replaced after the deadly Russian plane crash in Sinai in October last year highlighted ongoing security concerns at Egyptian airports.
Hisham Zaazou, who holds the tourism portfolio, may also be held accountable for the impact of the Russian passenger jet tragedy on the country's already-fragile tourism figures. Zaazou is being criticised, sources say, for failing to present new ideas to turn the crisis around.
The minister of religious endowments, Mokhtar Gomaa, has also made the list of potential dismissals, apparently due to media reports about alleged corruption cases in his ministry.
El-Hilali El-Sherbini, the minister of education, has faced controversy during his tenure and may also be among those let go; the minister faced criticism from school students after he implemented a measure that would see absence from classes impact students' scores in the thanaweya amma, the critical exams that determine university placement. Prime Minister Ismail suspended the decision after the outcry.
The sources also told Al-Ahram Arabic that two ministers with economy-related portfolios may lose their positions.
Ashraf Salman, the country's investment minister, may get the sack in light of a perceived failure to secure adequate foreign investments, while Ashraf El-Arabi of the planning ministry may be let go due to the failure of the civil service law. The law, which would reform the country's bureaucracy, has been unpopular with civil servants since its drafting, and failed to pass a parliamentary vote in January.