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Egypt

Morsi swears in new cabinet members

Ten new ministers have been sworn into Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's cabinet. The leader reportedly hopes the reshuffle can revive confidence in the country's struggling economy ahead of loan talks with IMF.

The Egyptian leader appointed new cabinet members during the Sunday ceremony in what he hoped would help rescue an economy that has been on the decline since the 2011-uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. Yet, the political affiliations underlined more than Morsi's plans for fiscal reform, a Cairo University professor told the Reuters news agency.

"Dr. Morsi would like to be sure that he has a cabinet that shares his major orientations," said Mustapha Kamal Al-Sayyid, a political science professor. "He wants to be surrounded by like-minded ministers."

The new finance minister, Al-Morsi al-Sayyed Hegazi - an Islamic finance specialist - took the place of Mumtaz al-Said who had resigned late last year over government policy disagreements.

Interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim, a police boss who had recently been tasked with overseeing prisons, replaced Ahmed Gamal al-Din, who had resigned in December along with the former finance minister.

The remaining eight positions - with portfolios including transport, development, and trade - were reportedly filled by politicians sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Initial reports did not indicate which of these ministers actually belonged to the political arm of the Brotherhood, called the Freedom and Justice Party.

Late in December, the upper house of parliament - the Shura Council - which has an overwhelming Islamist majority, assumed temporary powers as the law-making body under a new constitution. President Morsi had ratified the constitution draft, which the opposition has said weakens human rights, especially with regard to the rights of women and religious minorities.

Egyptians approved the constitution at a referendum, with 63.8 percent voting in its favor.

The Shura Council is to hold power until a new legislating lower house is chosen in national elections expected in early 2013.

The reshuffle on Sunday could help Morsi's government finalize a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worth $4.8 billion (3.67 billion euros) needed to help begin repairing its ailing economy and national currency. Cairo announced talks had been temporarily suspended last month amid political instability.

A senior IMF official is scheduled to meet with Egyptian counterparts on Monday, when loan talks are expected to resume.

kms/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa, dapd)