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News Analysis: Egypt's cabinet reshuffle unlikely to achieve political, economic breakthrough

English.news.cn   2013-05-08 05:19:06            

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, May 7 (Xinhua) -- While Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi expects Tuesday's cabinet reshuffle "to pump new blood into the government," analysts say the move is unlikely to achieve any political settlement or economic recovery.

The reshuffle, involving nine ministries, raised the number of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ministers to more than 10 out of a total of 35, further consolidating the Islamic group's grip of the country's powers.

Although new figures are now heading the ministries of justice, finance, investment, petroleum, planning and international cooperation, legal and parliamentary affairs, culture, antiquities and agriculture, "the reshuffle did not bring anything new to resolve the complicated political and economic issues in Egypt," said Mahmoud Bakry, executive editor-in-chief of El-Osboa newspaper.

He told Xinhua that it was a surprise that amid such political turmoil, the reshuffle did not include any new ministers from opposition parties.

Egypt's main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, has recurrently demanded sacking the government of Prime Minister Hesham Qandil as a prerequisite for dialogue with the president. After the reshuffle, analysts believe the gap between the presidency and the opposition would remain the same.

"In the future, I think the situation in Egypt will be the same and the gap between presidency and opposition will be the same," Bakry said, adding the reshuffle showed there was no presidential compromise with the opposition's demands.

"The choice of a new justice minister, who is a supporter of Morsi and an opponent of the Judges' Club that challenges him, will also exacerbate the tension between the presidency and the judiciary," Bakry noted.

For his part, Bashir Abdel-Fattah, a researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that the reshuffle did not offer any solution to the ongoing political tension in Egypt.

"The new cabinet reshuffle would not break the political deadlock, as it brought in ministers who are either MB members, Morsi's main supporters, or their supporters," Abdel-Fattah, who is also editor of Al-Ahram's Democracy Magazine, told Xinhua.

Abdel-Fattah added "the reshuffle does not meet the demands of the opposition, as Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, whose sacking has been a persistent opposition demand, remains in office."

The reshuffle failed to include substantial ministerial change that could help resolving Egypt's pressing issues, he said. "It did not involve a large segment of the political forces," he lamented.

Although the reshuffle included new ministers of finance, investment and planning and international cooperation, analysts believe the change is not enough to resolve Egypt's economic problems.

"The solutions for Egypt's economic problems at this stage cannot just be economic ones; rather, they have to start with a political settlement," said economist Saad Hagras, editor-in-chief of Al-Alam al-Youm (The World Today) Newspaper.

Egyptian official reports recently said the country's budget deficit exceeded 21.5 billion U.S. dollars and that its foreign currency reserves lost over 22 billion U.S. dollars in the past two years of political turmoil.

Over the past few months, Egypt has been struggling for a rescue loan of 4.8 U.S. billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund to boost its ailing economy.

"As for negotiations with the IMF, the reshuffle replaced the planning and international cooperation minister with an engineer who has nothing to do with the issue and needs to study the entire IMF loan file, which takes a long time," Hagras said.

If there was an independent, national and unbiased government, it would settle the country's political situation, guarantee free and fair future elections and put Egypt on the right economic track, according to the economist.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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