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Middle East
Egypt swears in new ministers
Key portfolios in cabinet reshuffle remain unchanged, prompting Muslim Brotherhood to dismiss reform as "an illusion".
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2011 20:39 GMT
Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, left, and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, centre, will remain in place [Reuters]

Egypt's key portfolios of defence, interior, foreign, finance and justice were unchanged in a cabinet reshuffle, state television confirmed.

The list of new ministers that was presented on Tuesday included changing the veteran oil minister, as well as introducing politicians who had been opposed to the rule of Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down from office after widespread protests.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who leads the ruling military council and has been defence minister for about 20 years, took the new ministers' oaths of office.

But the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's biggest opposition group, said the new cabinet showed that Mubarak's "cronies" still controlled the country's politics.

"This new cabinet is an illusion," Essam el-Erian, a senior Brotherhood member, said. "It pretends it includes real opposition but in reality this new government puts Egypt under the tutelage of the West."

"The main defence, justice, interior and foreign ministries remain unchanged, signalling Egypt's politics remain in the hands of Mubarak and his cronies," el-Erian said.

Mubarak reshuffled his cabinet shortly after protests erupted on January 25 in a bid to assuage anger against his 30-year rule, but rage continued to build until his ouster on February 11.

The Brotherhood and youth protesters had demanded that all Mubarak's ministers must be changed in the new government sworn in ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections.

The latest reshuffle brought into the cabinet a few opposition figures including Yehia el-Gamal, deputy prime minister, the Wafd party's Mounir Abdel Nour as tourism minister, and Tagammu party's Gowdat Abdel-Khaleq as minister of social solidarity and social justice.

Both Wafd and Tagammu had often been close to Mubarak's government.

The Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services (CTUWS) said the government's appointment of Ismail Ibrahim Fahmy as new labour minister showed it continued to "co-opt formal labour unions and the labour ministry", it said in a statement.

Fahmy was the treasurer of the General Union for Workers' Syndicates in Egypt.

"We warn of the dire consequences of defying the will of the workers and their legitimate right to enjoy union rights," CTUWS said.

Egyptian online democracy activists called for a demonstration on Tuesday to demand the removal of the country's interim government, saying it contains too many old faces.

"The call for the million-man march on Friday would show people's anger and frustration," the Brotherhood's el-Erian said.

Source:
Agencies
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