Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi reshuffled his cabinet Sunday, increasing the presence of Islamists in the government and swapping the heads of ten ministries. Reports suggest that at least three Islamists were installed as the ministers for key economic sectors.
Morsi’s move came just a day before a scheduled high-profile visit of International Monetary Fund delegation to talk about a future loan amounting to $4.8 billion.
According to reports, around three of the new ministers are hard-line members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Although new finance minister Al-Mursi al-Sayed Hegazy is not an Islamist, opposition leaders say he might hold sympathy for the Islamist group because he is an Islamic banking professional.
The president’s action had been expected by some in Egyptian. Analysts think that the move intends to appease public irritation over growing economic suffering. However, Morsi’s rivals accused him of trying to widen the Islamist dominance on the government at a time when the nation is enduring the blows of a currency crisis.
Although, Islamists from across Egypt voiced their support for the move, yet they were not clear how the eleventh-hour cabinet reshuffle might influence talks for the direly required $4.8 billion IMF loan.
”The focus is on the IMF deal. There is therefore no big room for policy changes, regardless who comes now in government,’’ said Mohamed abu Basha, Egypt economist at EFG-Hermes, according to the Financial Times. “It is a tough environment to join the government.”
Egypt’s foreign currency reserves have declined to less than half their worth from before the 2011 revolution. The Egyptian pound also fell to a new low recently: 6.45 pounds to the dollar.
Egypt’s conservative Islamists have been urging the government to implement an Islamic banking system in the country, which bans interest in loans, as a substitute to modern banking system.
Morsi’s move is being viewed by some analysts as a way to lessen rising public frustration about political and economic reforms.
“My reading of the situation is that the performance of the previous cabinet was not up to the required level,” said Mahmoud Ghozlan, a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, according to The Washington Post. “I hope the new cabinet will perform better and rise with the country in a tangible way that can be felt by the regular citizen.”