New Egypt finance minister in reshuffle to ease protest

Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:55pm EDT
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By Edmund Blair

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt picked a new finance minister Sunday as part of a broad cabinet reshuffle demanded by protesters camped out in central Cairo, and the outgoing minister said policy making had become "confused."

The changes went some way to fulfilling demands of protesters, who have also called for a swift trial of Hosni Mubarak, 83. The former president's lawyer Sunday said he had slipped into a coma but state media denied the report.

Mubarak has been hospitalized in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since he was questioned in April and his health is often subject to speculation. Many Egyptians see his illness as a ruse to keep him out of court.

Protesters ended Mubarak's 30-year rule on February 11, but many are frustrated the army council has not moved faster to shake up the system and purge the ex-president's officials.

Samir Radwan, who was appointed finance minister shortly before Mubarak left, will be replaced by Hazem el-Beblawi, 74, who has been an adviser to the Arab Monetary Fund in Abu Dhabi. Other names were also announced, including foreign minister.

The new finance minister could find policy initiatives vetoed by the army as his predecessor, Radwan, found when he secured a loan from the International Monetary Fund only to have the plan shot down, economists said.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's new cabinet is expected to take the oath of office Monday.

Beblawi told reporters after his appointment that his aim was "restoring as much confidence as possible to Egypt's economy" and said there should be a cap on higher paid state employees, Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported on it website.   Continued...

<p>Hazem el-Beblawi, the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCAW), speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in Beirut in this September 29, 1998 file photo. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi/Files</p>