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Egypt's Morsi adds more Brothers to his cabinet

The Cabinet shake-up aimed at improving the government's approach to Egypt's wounded economy.

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El-Morsi Hegazy, a professor of public finance at Alexandria University, takes over the Finance Ministry, replacing Mumtaz el-Said, who was appointed by the country's transitional military rulers and widely viewed as being at odds with the Brotherhood.

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Mohammed Ibrahim, meanwhile, will lead the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for the police force. He previously was in charge of prisons and prior to that was director of security in the province of Assiut, which has a large Coptic Christian population and has also been home to a number of Islamic militant groups.

Mr. Ibrahim said his priorities will be to fight a rising wave of crime and restore stability to Egypt.

"We will strike with an iron fist against anyone that threatens the security of the nation and Egyptians," Ibrahim told the state news agency, pledging to clamp down on cross-border weapons smuggling. Egypt has been flush with weapons smuggled from Libya and Sudan.

Three new ministers are Brothers

Three of the new ministers are from the Brotherhood, according to the spokesman for the group's Freedom and Justice Party, Ahmed Subaie. They take over the ministries of transportation, local development, and supply and interior trade, giving the Brotherhood a total of eight Cabinet posts.

Also included in the reshuffle were the ministries of civil aviation, environment, electricity, communication, and parliamentary affairs.

Karim Ennarah, a researcher on police and security reforms at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said the previous interior minister, Ahmed Gamal Eddin, was likely replaced because Brotherhood leaders were upset with the police's handling of attacks against the group's offices and supporters during clashes with the opposition last month over the constitution.

"It seems like it is a clash of egos. It's obviously not a reform of any kind," Mr. Ennarah said.

With the new Cabinet set, Kandil told reporters he will meet with IMF officials Monday "to reassure them about Egypt's situation and economic recovery in the coming period."

An IMF statement said the purpose of the visit is "to discuss with the authorities the most recent economic developments, their policy plans for addressing Egypt's economic and financial challenges, and possible IMF support for Egypt in facing these challenges."

Egyptian officials have said that the country's budget deficit is likely to reach 200 billion Egyptian pounds ($31.5 billion) by mid-2013.

The implementation of austerity measures, many of which are believed to be linked to conditions attached to the IMF loan, was also delayed last month due to the political situation.

Kandil's government is expected to announce tax hikes and cuts in subsidies soon. Talk of restructuring the current system is sensitive in a nation where nearly half of its 85 million people live just at or below the poverty line of $2 per person a day.

* Associated Press writer Sarah El Deeb contributed.

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