Egypt Reshuffles Cabinet and Hosts IMF
Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi reshuffled his cabinet on Sunday “to tackle the country’s troubled economy with its rising budget deficit and falling national currency.” Ten ministers were installed, including for the ministries of finance and the interior. The Egypt Independent published their bios. The shakeup was expected but controversial, as the new finance minister, al-Mursi al-Sayed Hegazy, is an expert in Islamic finance and sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, while three others are members of the Brotherhood. The group now controls 8 of 37 cabinet posts.
Opposition to Morsi’s administration criticized the moves. National Salvation Front (NSF) spokesperson Hussein Abdel-Ghani said, ”It’s the same cosmetic changes that are not tackling the problems facing the country while at the same time increasing the powers of the Brotherhood.” April Six, Egypt’s opposition youth group, said that the changes “‘will not solve [Egypt's problems]‘.” Conversely, Mahmoud Ghozlan, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, stated that Morsi has been conciliatory. Magdy Sobhi, a political economist with the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, comments, “There is no chance for the president’s reshuffle to bring back people’s trust in the government and economy.”
The changes came a day before a senior IMF official arrived in Cairo to discuss a crucial $4.8 billion loan. HSBC noted that the loan is “the only thing standing between Egypt and a disorderly economic deterioration.” The Egyptian pound has lost 4% of its value since December 30th, and more than 10% since Mubarak’s overthrow. Egypt’s central bank warned that its foreign exchange reserves, down to $15 billion in December, are at a critical level. Ghada Barsoum, an Assistant Professor at the American University in Cairo writes that youth unemployment is also a major economic issue.
Meanwhile, Sharif Nashashibi, writing for Al Arabiya News, documents many of the Morsi government’s violations of press freedoms, specifically for insulting the president.