Egypt finance, interior ministers replaced
Cairo, January 31, 2011
Egypt has formed its new cabinet and replaced the finance minister, who was popular with foreign investors, and the interior minister, who protesters reviled due to police handling of demonstrations, sources said on Monday.
Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali has been replaced by Gawdat el-Malt, who has headed the audit office and gained some popularity for addressing corruption, one source said.
That source plus another political source said General Mahmoud Wagdy, previously head of Cairo criminal investigations department and also a former head of prisons, would be the new interior minister.
Protesters who have shaken Egypt's political system to its core had demanded former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli be sacked after police beat, teargassed and fired rubber bullets on demonstrators.
Meanwhile, crowds flocked in the morning to Tahrir Square, which has become the focus of the uprising over poverty, corruption and unemployment, to join protesters who had camped out overnight in defiance of a curfew imposed by Mubarak.
Soldiers checked IDs but the crowd steadily grew, chanting "Down, down, Mubarak."
The uprising against Mubarak's 30-year-rule, now in its sixth day, unnerved global markets. Share prices fell across Asia on Monday morning, Brent oil hit a 28-month high, and Egypt's financial markets were closed for a second day in a row.
The mood between the troops and the protesters in the square remained generally relaxed, with people sharing food and standing by tanks daubed with anti-Mubarak graffiti.
The army appears to hold the key to Mubarak's fate but although the generals have held back from crushing the revolt, they have also not withdrawn support for Mubarak.
"The army has to choose between Egypt and Mubarak," read one banner in Tahrir Square.
More than 100 people were killed in clashes with security forces in scenes that overturned Egypt's standing as a stable country, promising emerging market and attractive tourist destination.
An Egyptian opposition coalition that includes the Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood has turned to Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the UN nuclear agency, to form a national unity government and make contact with the military.
ElBaradei, a Nobel peace laureate and retired diplomat, has urged Obama to call time on Mubarak. "It is better for President Obama not to appear that he is the last one to say to President Mubarak, 'It's time for you to go'," he told CNN. - Reuters