Egyptian PM taken to hospital, new cabinet delayed

Sharaf in a stable condition; at least half the cabinet being replaced, including new foreign, finance and trade ministers.

By REUTERS
July 19, 2011 06:50
2 minute read.
Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf

Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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CAIRO - Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was taken to hospital because of blood pressure problems on Monday, and the swearing in of a much-changed cabinet was delayed.

Sharaf, 59, underwent medical tests in Dar al-Fouad hospital in Cairo after suffering a fall in blood pressure, the state MENA news agency reported. A cabinet source said Sharaf later left the hospital.

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"His condition is stable," said one security source.

Sharaf's admittance to hospital occurred after a ceremony to swear in his new cabinet scheduled for Monday was delayed until Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if it would be delayed further.

The cabinet reshuffle was designed to placate protesters demanding deeper political and economic reforms by Egypt's military rulers, who took over when Hosni Mubarak was driven from office in February by a popular uprising.

The protesters, who have camped in Cairo's Tahrir Square since July 8, have also demanded a quick trial of Mubarak.

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They said the reshuffle, changing half of the cabinet including the foreign and finance ministers, only partially met their demands.

Interior Minister Mansour el-Essawy is set to keep his post. The police, who fall under his ministry, have been a particular target for protesters because of tough tactics used during and after the uprising that toppled Mubarak.

Some protesters welcomed Essawy's shake-up of top police officers last week. Others say he has not done enough.

"What is this cabinet reshuffle that took place? It is ridiculous. We want Essawy to leave, he was unable to make any changes in the police force. We are not feeling any difference," said Shaimaa Saif el-Din, a 22-year-old demonstrator.

The new ministers were due to take the oath of office in front of the military council's head, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who was Mubarak's defense minister for two decades.

Mubarak's lawyer said on Sunday the former president, who has been in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April, had slipped into a coma, but hospital officials and the deputy health minister denied the report.

The former president is to appear in court on Aug. 3 charged with abuse of power and killing protesters.

Many Egyptians believe the army wants to find ways to avoid humiliating its former commander in public. Security sources said Mubarak's trial could take place in Sharm el-Sheikh and not Cairo as planned.

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