International News

Egypt reshuffles cabinet before presidential elections

The Egyptian parliament has approved a cabinet reshuffle as incumbent Abdel Fattah el-Sisi struggles to improve his image among the public two months ahead of the scheduled presidential elections in the North African country.
Government sources said Sunday that the reshuffle approved by the 596-seat parliament included four changes of portfolios while deputies of the ministries were also appointed.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, who is recovering from a surgery, was to be replaced with Housing Minister Mustafa Madbuly, who will serve as interim prime minister.
Abu Bakr al-Gendi, Rania al-Mashat, Enas Abdeldayem and Khaled Badawy were appointed as ministers for local development, tourism, culture and public enterprise respectively.
Sisi should now swear in the ministers. Many say his appointment of Rania al-Mashat, Enas Abdeldayem, two women known to the public for their records in arts and tourism activities, is a sign that he desperately seeks a better approval rating ahead of the presidential polls.
The elections will be held on March 26-28 while candidates must register between January 20 and 29. A run-off is scheduled for April 24-26.
Sisi, a former army chief, led a popular coup against former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, one year before he took office. He has faced increasing criticism over his inability to root out militancy in Egypt. Many blame the insecurity, which has cost thousands of lives over the past four years, on Sisi’s policies to counter elements from the Muslim Brotherhood, the best established political party in Egypt and the Muslim world. Tens of thousands have been prosecuted over links to the Brotherhood and its leaders, including Morsi, since Sisi’s rise to power.