Middle East News
Egypt unveils cabinet shake-up amid protests
Jul 11, 2011, 21:22 GMT
Cairo- Egypt's government is to be reshuffled within a week, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said late Monday as protesters continued an open-ended strike in Cairo and other big cities to push for massive changes in the country.
Sharaf, whose government is criticized for allegedly dragging feet on prosecuting former president Hosny Mubarak and officials of the former regime, called on the nation's judiciary to hold public and swift trials for officials and policemen involved in a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters earlier this year.
'There will also be a reshuffle of governors before the end of this month,' Sharaf added in a televised address late Monday.
About seven to 12 ministers are expected to be replaced, including those for the interior, justice, manpower, endowments and military production, the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper reported online on Monday.
Protesters have been calling for these ministers to be replaced, either because of their links to the Mubarak regime or the slow pace of reform in their respective ministries.
Sharaf said he had ordered the interior minister to sack policemen thought to be involved in shooting at protesters.
Demonstrators have vowed to continue their sit-ins across Egypt beyond Monday, and threatened an escalation if the military leaders did not meet their demands.
They are pushing for those believed to be loyal to Mubarak to be purged from key state institutions.
Protesters camping out in central Cairo's Tahrir Square Monday blocked access to the capital's largest government building for the second day in a row.
They threatened to lay siege to several buildings near the square housing the parliament, the cabinet and state television and radio.
They were angry at the slow pace of judicial proceedings against Mubarak, as well as officials and policemen accused of killing protesters during an 18-day uprising that led to the president's ouster on February 11.
At least 846 people were killed in the uprising and more than 6,000 injured, leaving many with permanent disabilities.
Egypt's benchmark stock index dropped about 3 per cent Monday, reflecting concerns about the country's stability five months after the revolution.