December 21, 2014
Egypt's Al-Sisi keeps PM, seeks continuity
Newly inaugurated President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reappointed Egypt's prime minister today, signalling continuity as he sets out to fix the economy and overcome political divisions after a long period of turmoil and bloodshed.
In comments carried by the state news agency, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said the current government would stay on in a caretaker role until he forms a new cabinet. Consultations had not yet begun, he said, although officials have said many of the leading ministers such as finance are likely to be unchanged.
Al-Sisi, who as armed forces chief toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last July following mass protests, was sworn in yesterday in a ceremony with low-key attendance by Western allies concerned by a crackdown on dissent.
While Al-Sisi quit the military in March, a lower-than-expected turnout in last month's presidential elections fell short of giving him a strong mandate to take tough measures to repair an economy wounded by three years of instability and regular violence which has scared away foreign investors and tourists.
Keeping the main ministers in place could allow Al-Sisi to implement quickly the kind of reforms that the United Arab Emirates - one of the Gulf Arab states that gave Egypt billions of dollars in aid after Mursi's fall - has been encouraging.One of the most important figures in Egypt's drive to resuscitate the economy is Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian, who is expected to stay on in the new administration.
Educated at Columbia University in the United States, he was described by a senior European diplomat as the only ministry expert able to deal professionally with the International Monetary Fund during a failed attempt under Mursi to secure a $4.8 billion loan.Al-Sisi has consulted a number of international figures in economics and business including Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. One of his first meetings as president was with Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez on Monday. They discussed ways to increase foreign exchange reserves and policies to ensure the stability of the Egyptian pound, the state news agency reported.