July 19, 2011 / 11:27 AM / 9 years ago

Egypt cabinet to be sworn in on PM's return - sources

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has put off plans to swear in a new cabinet until Prime Minister Essam Sharaf recovers from a drop in blood pressure and returns to work, cabinet sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf attends a news conference in Doha April 27, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

Sharaf, who the sources said was resting at home on Tuesday after being taken to a hospital in Cairo on Monday, has been locked in negotiations over the makeup of his new cabinet.

He had been under pressure from protesters camped out in central Cairo since July 8 demanding faster reforms and speedy trials of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his aides, accused of corruption or killing protesters.

“The new cabinet oath and negotiations over appointing other ministers is delayed until Essam Sharaf’s return to the cabinet,” one cabinet source said, adding that Sharaf, 59, may return by the end of this week after resting.

Activists pushing for a swift move to civilian rule have described the reshuffle involving half of the cabinet as too little, too late and said it failed to purge the government of former Mubarak allies.

Some protesters have called for the removal of Interior Minister Mansour el-Essawy whom they blame for failing to end a culture of thuggery and impunity in the police force.

Essawy was set to keep his job in the reshuffle, after a major shake-up of the police that included ending the service of more than 650 senior police officers, some of whom were accused of abusing protesters.

Activists have criticised Essawy’s shake up of the police as an insufficient move against an institution notorious for using tough tactics before and during the uprising that ousted Mubarak.

Two men named as ministers in the new cabinet have already withdrawn after facing public criticism.

Ahmed Fekri Abdel Wahab declined his appointment as Minister of Trade and Industry on Tuesday, saying he had been criticised for having links to the business community.

The man initially chosen to run the antiquities ministry, Abdel-Fattah al-Banna, stepped aside on Monday after he came under fire for lacking archaeological credentials.

The reshuffle came after protests in the centre of Cairo and other cities that offered the most serious challenge yet to the army-backed interim government that took over following Mubarak’s overthrow in February.

Egypt is in a political hiatus until elections aimed to usher in civilian rule later this year.

A peaceful transition will depend on how effectively the military rulers can manage pressure from the street for faster reforms and keep a lid on social tensions made worse by an economic crisis.

“What is needed is to restore the trust and the credibility of the government,” Hazem el-Beblawi, due to replace Samir Radwan as finance minister, told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The basic problem facing us now in the short run is restoring security, not just security but the perception of security,” he added.

Reporting by Marwa Awad and Edmund Blair; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Heavens

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