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Cabinet reshuffle will convince some in Tahrir, says new finance minister

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Hazem el-Beblawi

Hazem el-Beblawi, 1996. Photo: UN Photo/Milton Grant

Egypt’s new finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi told RFI on Sunday that protesters in Tahrir Square would be “at least partially satisfied” with the government’s cabinet reshuffle. Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has handed a list of proposed ministers to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for approval. The new cabinet is expected to be unveiled on Monday.

“The new cabinet reflects more the feeling on the street than the previous one, where some names, rightly or wrongly, were associated with the past regime,” says Beblawi.

Beblawi replaces Samir Radwan who was appointed shortly before toppled president Hosni Mubarak left.

Many Egyptians are frustrated that the ruling military council has not moved more quickly with reforms. Demonstrators have occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square since 8 July, increasingly directing their anger at the army.

Beblawi previously worked as an advisor at the Arab Monetary Fund and executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

Once he officially takes office Beblawi says he would like to develop a “common view” amongst all those responsible for economic affairs. He says a “unified position” is important in facing a “critical situation”.

The economic problems are “a sort of a bottleneck which is short-term,” says the 74-year-old. “The prospects seem to me, very promising,” he adds.

Egypt’s EGX30 index made its biggest one-day gain in 15 weeks on Sunday following the news of the cabinet reshuffle. It jumped more than three per cent.

The former finance minister had agreed a 2.12 billion euro finance package from the International Monetary Fund to help with the country’s budget deficit. However, the plans for a 12-month stand-by loan were dropped in June.

Beblawi says he is not fully aware of the details of the loan or why it was shelved. But he says the solution must have been because Egypt could do without it.

The Egyptian pound has lost 2.5 per cent of its value since January. The country’s uprising has hit tourism and foreign investment hard.

Radio France Internationale

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Written by Daniel Finnan

17 July 2011 at 23:04

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