Egypt strengthens Islamist role in cabinet, eyes IMF deal
CAIRO - Egypt's president added fellow Islamists to a reshuffled government on Sunday and the new finance minister pledged to finish talks on an IMF loan to stave off a currency crisis that risks provoking more popular unrest.
A senior IMF official is due in Cairo on Monday to meet Egyptian leaders over the $4.8 billion loan deal, which was postponed last month to give Egypt more time to tackle political tensions before introducing unpopular austerity measures.
The new finance minister Al-Morsi Al-Sayed Hegazy is an expert on Islamic finance and is seen as sympathetic to the aims and thinking of President Mohamed Mursi, elected in June, and to his Muslim Brotherhood. A Brotherhood spokesman denied Hegazy was a member but said three other new ministers were.
The new ministers in what is still largely a government of non-partisan technocrats take office in an economic crisis which has seen the currency lose more than a tenth of its value since the uprising two years ago which toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Political unrest over a new Islamist-tinged constitution had delayed tax increases believed to be key to the IMF deal, but in a brief statement, Hegazy said he was "completely ready to complete discussions" with the International Monetary Fund.