Egypt’s government has sworn in 10 new ministers in a reshuffle of the cabinet aimed at mapping out ways of handling the country’s struggling economy.
The key posts that changed hands on Sunday were the ministers of finance and interior, which handles the police.
El Morsi Sayed Hegazy replaced Mumtaz al-Said in the finance ministry while General Mohammed Ibrahim took over from Ahmed Gamal Eddin as interior minister.
The shake-up comes as a delegation of International Monetary Fund officials prepares to meet Egyptian authorities on Monday to discuss a $4.8bn loan and painful economic restructuring.
President Mohamed Morsi met the new ministers after their swearing-in and discussed ways to revive tourism and attract foreign investors.
Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said the reshuffle was not a surprise as Morsi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil had been talking about it for some time.
The surprise, she said, was the sacking of Gamal Eddin as interior minister.
But our correspondent said the minister had been blamed for failing to bring the security situation in the country under control.
The new finance minister is an expert on Islamic finance and is seen as sympathetic to the aims and thinking of Morsi, elected in June, and to his Muslim Brotherhood. A Brotherhood spokesman denied Hegazy was a member.
But three of the other new ministers are from the Brotherhood, according to the spokesman for the group’s Freedom and Justice Party, Ahmed Subaie. They take over the ministries of transportation, local development and supply and interior trade, giving the Brotherhood a total of eight cabinet posts out of 37.
The IMF said it was sending its Middle East and Central Asia director, Masood Ahmed, to discuss the postponed loan agreement and “possible IMF support for Egypt”.
Loan talks were delayed last month at Cairo’s behest because of unrest in which 11 people died and hundreds were injured in anti-Morsi protests.
A spokesman for the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, said the group was still studying the new appointments and would give its reaction to the moves later.
Egypt’s opposition youth group, April Six, said in a statement that the changes were not enough and “will not solve
Most opposition groups had asked for the whole cabinet to be sacked and replaced by one that would include more technocrats representing all political parties.
Morsi said last month the aim of the reshuffle would be to tackle the country’s troubled economy with its rising budget deficit and falling national currency, the Egyptian pound.
Two ministers have already stepped down since late December, in a sign of divisions within the ranks of Qandil’s cabinet. Mohammed Mahsoub, the legal and parliamentary affairs minister, quit on December 27, two days after communications minister Hany Mahmud.