Egypt changes defence, interior ministers in cabinet overhaul

Thursday June 14 2018

Abdel Fattah al sisi, egypt,

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) meeting with his newly-appointed Defence Minister General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed (L), and his predecessor Colonel General Sedky Sobhy (C) at the presidential palace in the capital Cairo. AFP PHOTO | EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY  

By AFP
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi replaced the interior and defence ministers in a major reshuffle Thursday, with security forces battling an Islamist insurgency at the start of his second term.

Sisi, who also named a new finance minister, swept to another four years in office against a token challenger at elections in March, pledging to tackle the raft of security and economic challenges facing the country.

Egyptian forces have since February been waging a sweeping operation against the local affiliate of the Islamic State group in the restive North Sinai province.

The new cabinet under freshly appointed Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, who previously served as housing minister, was sworn in live on state TV.
General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, who led the republican guard since August 2012, became the new defence minister in place of Sedki Sobhi.

Sobhi had held the post since taking over from Sisi when he ran for the top office in 2014, a year after spearheading the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi during mass protests.

The position of interior minister was filled by General Mahmoud Tawfiq, who had led the national security apparatus since October 2017, replacing Magdi Abdel Ghaffar.

Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Moeet, who has previously held several government posts in various ministries, replaced Amr el-Garhy in the key role of finance minister.

Egyptian authorities are implementing a sweeping economic reform programme that prompted the International Monetary Fund to approve a three-year, $12-billion loan in November 2016.

Authorities have since also floated Egypt's currency, cut fuel subsidies and adopted a value added tax, measures which have led to soaring consumer prices.

Other changes included the ministers overseeing aviation, health, communications, environment, commerce and agriculture.

The former cabinet resigned on June 5, days after Sisi was inaugurated for a second term.

Sisi has long promised to wipe out the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai as a spate of deadly attacks have hit the country.

Officials say more than 200 jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed since the military launched the "Sinai 2018" operation.

Sisi, who has been accused of stamping out dissent in the country, was re-elected in March for his second term with 97 percent of the vote.

He faced only one little-known challenger after more serious opponents were either detained or sidelined.