Egypt fires finance, interior ministers before IMF visit

CAIRO Sun Jan 6, 2013 8:12am IST

A man stands outside an exchange bureau in Cairo December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

A man stands outside an exchange bureau in Cairo December 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Mursi fired his finance and interior ministers, cabinet sources said on Saturday, in a government reshuffle he had promised to assuage public anger at an economic crisis.

General Mohamed Ibrahim will replace Ahmed Gamal El-Din as interior minister and Al-Mursi Al-Sayed Hegazy takes the finance ministry job from Mumtaz al-Saaed.

Egypt's pound, 10 percent down since the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, lost more than 3 percent against the dollar in the week ending on Thursday, hitting a record low as fears grew over its rapidly shrinking foreign currency reserves.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it is sending its Middle East and Central Asia director, Masood Ahmed, to discuss a postponed $4.8 billion loan agreement and "possible IMF support for Egypt" with officials on Monday.

Loan talks were delayed last month at Cairo's behest because of unrest in which 11 people died and hundreds were injured in anti-Mursi protests.

State-run Egyptian newspaper Akhbar Al-Youm said earlier on Saturday that Ahmed would meet Mursi, Prime Minister Hashim Kandil and other top officials.

BROTHERHOOD MINISTERS

State news agency MENA said 10 new ministers would be sworn in on Sunday for portfolios including electricity, environment, communications and transport.

According to cabinet sources, at least three of the new ministers are from Mursi's Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood group.

"The Brotherhood new ministers are the ones handling the portfolios of transport, local development and supplies," one cabinet source said.

A Brotherhood official, who asked not to be named, declined to say how many of the new ministers are from the Brotherhood but said that the finance minister is "considered close to us due to his field of experience in Islamic finance".

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 (Egypt's problems)".

Most opposition groups had asked for the whole cabinet to be sacked and replaced by one that would include more technocrats and represent all political parties.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba and Yasmine Saleh; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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