Mubarak reshuffles Cabinet to give Egyptians a better deal

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's Cabinet reshuffle, his first dramatic move since taking office three months ago, comes at a time of:

* A prevailing mood of expectation that followed the new leader's takeover, emphasizing ''social justice,'' ''the firm confrontation of economic problems,'' and ''eradication'' of inflationary spending.

* A growing demand in Egypt and abroad for a clear domestic and foreign policy, particularly after the completion of Israeli withdrawal from Sinai scheduled for April.

* A wave of criticism of President Anwar Sadat's personal style of leadership , and emerging evidence of corruption among some of his associates and relatives.

Analysts believe that many questions as to the future of Egypt under Mubarak are not likely to be answered by the new Cabinet. Yet its performance during the next few months will be of crucial importance in this regard.

The caretaker government headed by Prime Minister Fuad Mohieddin is expected to lay the groundwork for a production-oriented economy geared at improving the lot of the bulk of Egyptians whose standard of living suffered greatly from President Sadat's open-door economic policy. That policy favored conspicuous consumption and raised inflation to more than 30 percent.

The new government is also expected to enhance the credibility of the state security system shaken after the assassination of President Sadat last October and the bloody sectarian clashes that culminated in a series of attacks by Muslim fundamentalists on police stations in Asyut and Cairo.

The Cabinet reshuffle, which was carried out in a record 24 hours, involved 11 ministers. It included the group in charge of the economy headed by Abdul Razzak Abdul Meguid. Mr. Abdul Meguid had been criticized in parliament for budget statistics and his name cropped up in a corruption trial.

The coalition, made up of the new ministers and 23 others appointed by Mr. Sadat, will be led by a career politician who has served as deputy prime minister, minister of health, and governor under Sadat.

A member of parliament over the last 24 years, Dr. Mohieddin graduated from Cairo University with a degree in surgery, but abandoned medicine for politics. In 1965 he became secretary of Egypt's sole political party, the Arab Socialist Union. In 1977 he held the same position in the ruling Egypt Arab Socialist Party, and two years later, he joined the National Democratic Party formed by President Sadat.

Though he was chosen as President Mubarak's first prime minister, a highly placed source says he is ''an old-hand executive, capable of leading a transition to a new peaceful Egypt under a new president.'' He and other observers hint that a substantive change in foreign and domestic policies can only take place after this ''delicate'' phase.

The Monitor learned that the change was prompted by the resignations of Abdel Meguid and his group. The deputy prime minister allegedly exempted an Alexandria multimillionaire from paying 5 million Egyptian pounds ($7.2 million) in customs taxes in return for favors. Helmi Abdul Akher, outgoing minister of state for parliamentary affairs, was indicted in the same case.

Dr. Mohieddin appointed Muhammad Abdul Fattan Ibrahim, governor of the Central Bank of Cairo, to head the new economic team as deputy prime minister for economic affairs.[Reuters reports meanwhile that Egypt agreed Jan. 3 to buy 20 French Mirage 2000 combat aircraft in a $1 billion deal, the largest it has signed with a West European country.]

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