News / Middle East

    Egypt's Morsi Brings More Islamists into Cabinet

    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, third left, attends Friday prayers in Cairo, Egypt, April 26, 2013.
    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, third left, attends Friday prayers in Cairo, Egypt, April 26, 2013.
    Reuters
    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi increased the influence of his Muslim Brotherhood over government in a Cabinet reshuffle that replaced two ministers involved in crucial talks with the IMF over a $4.8 billion loan.
        
    The changes fell well short of the opposition's demand for a complete overhaul of Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's administration and the installation of a neutral Cabinet to oversee parliamentary elections later this year.
        
    It looked unlikely to help build the political consensus the International Monetary Fund is seeking for reforms needed to secure a loan seen as vital to easing Egypt's deep economic crisis - an unaffordable budget deficit and a plunge in the value of its currency. The government is struggling to seal a deal that would require it to implement austerity measures.
        
    Kandil, a technocrat appointed premier last year, named nine new ministers. They included Amr Darrag, a senior official in the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, as planning minister. The outgoing minister, Ashraf al-Arabi, had played a central role in the IMF talks.
        
    Another Brotherhood member, Yehya Hamed, was named investment minister, and Ahmed el-Gezawi, an FJP member, took over agriculture, lifting the movement's share to around a third of the cabinet's 35 portfolios.
        
    Fayyad Abdel Moneim, a specialist in Islamic economics, was appointed as finance minister, replacing al-Morsi al-Sayed Hegazy, another expert on Islamic finance who was appointed in January - the last time Kandil reshuffled the Cabinet.
        
    “The reshuffle is unlikely to signal any real shift in policy, particularly from an economic perspective,” said Hirsh, a London-based economist.
        
    “If anything it deals a blow to demands for political consensus which the government seems to have ignored.”
       
    The changes underscored the polarized state of an Egyptian political scene split between Morsi and his Islamist allies and opposition parties that accuse him and the Brotherhood of trying to dominate the post-Hosni Mubarak order.
        
    Morsi announced on April 20 he would carry out the reshuffle to replace a government widely criticized for failing to get the economy moving nine months into his presidency.
        
    The United States, which gives Egypt $1.3 billion in military aid each year, has grown more critical of Morsi of late, listing a lack of political inclusivity as a concern.
        
    "Cosmetic change"
     
    Essam el-Erian, deputy head of the Freedom and Justice Party, told Al Jazeera's Egyptian news channel the aim of the reshuffle was to “confront the economic crisis and to conclude the agreement with the IMF with new spirit and a new vision, and to confront the energy crises,” a reference to fuel shortages.
        
    The National Salvation Front (NSF), a loose alliance of opposition parties, wants Morsi to install a neutral government and replace the public prosecutor before elections that are expected to get under way in October.
        
    “The changes will only deepen the political crisis and state of polarization and block the way to any possible real national dialogue,” said Hussein Abdel Ghani, an NSF member.
        
    Yasser el-Shimy, Egypt analyst with the International Crisis Group, said “They might be getting people who will do a better job but it does not address the political crisis in any meaningful way, and I'm not sure it's meant to."
        
    “They have absolutely no doubt that they will be able to ride this wave of instability,” he said.
        
    The reshuffle left the ministers of interior, defense and foreign affairs unchanged.
        
    Ahmed Suleiman was named as justice minister, replacing Ahmed Mekky, who resigned last month in protest at efforts by Morsi's Islamist allies to purge the judiciary. A former assistant to Mekky, Suleiman has been critical of some of Morsi's toughest opponents in the judiciary.
        
    Sherif Haddara, chairman of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation, was named as minister of petroleum, responsible for meeting the fuel needs of the cash-strapped state as summer approaches. The state, which subsidizes diesel, cooking gas and other fuels, has been struggling to finance energy imports.

    You May Like

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora