Egypt premier finalises cabinet

Ahram Online , Sunday 14 Jul 2013

El-Beblawi says new administration to be composed of 30 members; will not eliminate information ministry or government subsidies on basic commodities

Egypt's Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi

Egypt's new prime minister is putting the finishing touches on a cabinet that he says will be finalised by mid-week.

Hazem El-Beblawi, following the military-backed roadmap instated after the overthrow of Egypt's Islamist leader on 3 July, is scheduled to hold talks with candidates for ministerial posts in the coming two days.

El-Beblawi said on Saturday that the new administration will be made up of 30 members, as well as two deputies for economic and security affairs, according to MENA state news agency.

Some current ministers will maintain their posts in the new cabinet, he said.

The interim PM has said he would not rule out roles for the Muslim Brotherhood, from which the toppled president Mohamed Morsi hails, in the new cabinet. But the Islamist group has spurned offers to take part in the transitional government, which it says is backed by an illegitimate military coup.

El-Beblawi, a liberal economist and former finance minister, went on to affirm that the information ministry – responsible for regulating the country’s local media – will not be abolished.

There have been recurring demands to eliminate the ministry so as to ease media restrictions and allow greater freedom of speech.

MENA said on Saturday that foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr asked to not be included in the new cabinet, on the grounds that current developments in Egypt require a new foreign leadership. Ambassador to the United States Nabil Fahmy might be offered the post, official sources told Reuters on Saturday.

Kamel tendered his resignation to former president Morsi in early July, acting in solidarity with the 30 June protestors who took to the streets in the millions demanding the president’s ouster.

El-Beblawi also quashed rumours of an imminent abolition of subsidies for the country's basic commodities, a move which, if enforced, would severely strain low-income citizens.

Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait, have pledged $12 billion in aid to help Egypt sustain its faltering economy.

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