Egypt swears in new cabinet but includes old faces

EGYPT’S military rulers have sworn in a new cabinet that includes 11 new ministers in a nod to the opposition movement that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak but keeps three former members of the regime in key posts.

The move comes as the military leadership that is overseeing the country’s transition works to assure the anti-Mubarak movement that led mass protests it is committed to democratic reforms.

However, the decision to keep Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and Justice Minister Mamdouh Marie, three Mubarak loyalists, in their posts are likely to draw criticism from the youth activists and others who launched the uprising on Jan. 25.

The coalition government included independents and members of opposition parties for the first time in decades, pushing out the longtime ministers of oil, social justice and labour.

The new cabinet also included two Coptic Christians, including an ex-politician.

Among the new names were Monier Fakhri Abdel Nour, a Coptic member of the Wafd opposition party as minister of tourism, filling a position that has been vacant since Zuhair Garana was jailed on corruption charges.

Top leftist Tagammu party member Gouda Abdel Khaleq also was named minister of social justice.

Warning of new mass protests, the young activists who led the movement have pressed the military council to form a broad-based government that excludes Mubarak’s cronies, release political prisoners and abolish laws on political parties and allow free and fair election.

The military council already has dissolved parliament, which was stacked with Mubarak’s National Democratic party, and suspended the constitution.

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