New Egyptian Cabinet will be Wednesday

CAIRO,(ST)_ Egypt's designated  prime minister is putting the finishing touches on a cabinet that he says will be finalized by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hazem El-Beblawi said on Saturday that the new administration will be made up of 30 members, as well as two deputies for economic and security affairs, according to MENA state news agency.

Some current ministers will maintain their posts in the new cabinet, he said

The interim PM has said he would not rule out roles for the Muslim Brotherhood, from which the toppled president Mohamed Morsi hails, in the new cabinet. But the Islamist group has spurned offers to take part in the transitional government.

El-Beblawi, a liberal economist and former finance minister, went on to affirm that the information ministry – responsible for regulating the country’s local media – will not be abolished.

There have been recurring demands to eliminate the ministry so as to ease media restrictions and allow greater freedom of speech.

MENA said on Saturday that foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr asked to not be included in the new cabinet, on the grounds that current developments in Egypt require a new foreign leadership. Ambassador to the United States Nabil Fahmy might be offered the post, official sources told Reuters on Saturday.

El-Beblawi also quashed rumours of an imminent abolition of subsidies for the country's basic commodities, a move which, if enforced, would severely strain low-income citizens.

Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait, have pledged $12 billion in aid to help Egypt sustain its faltering economy.

However, . Prosecutors in Cairo  are weighing charges against deposed president Mohammed Morsi for damaging the nation's economy.

It's a charge many Egyptians would support. Many Egyptians celebrated their country's revolution of two and a half years ago, but Egypt is still in turmoil.

For some ordinary Egyptians, life has become more difficult. Forty percent of the country is now living in poverty.

In another development, five gunmen were killed in North Sinai on Friday as part of an ongoing military operation to combat militants in the region.

A security operation resulted in the deaths of five gunmen, security sources told the state-owned MENA news agency, adding that 37 suspected militants have been killed in North Sinai since 30 June protests.

Forty-two others have been injured, the source said.

On Saturday, Apache helicopters targeted a vehicle reportedly containing gunmen after an earlier attack on Arish airport.

Security sources said the aircraft, which fired on the vehicle, is likely to have killed three people and injured others.

The army is continuing combing operations in the area.

Eyewitnesses said Apache helicopters were still flying over Arish on Saturday afternoon, reportedly to pursue gunmen and ensure no civilians approached the targeted vehicle.


T. Fateh