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Muslim Brotherhood gains more influence in limited Egypt cabinet reshuffle

Oliver Weiken / EPA

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gesturing during an interview Saturday.

CAIRO - Islamist members of the Muslim Brotherhood were given greater influence in Egypt’s government on Tuesday when President Mohamed Morsi reshuffled his cabinet in response to demands for change.

Opposition parties and many citizens have complained of mismanagement and have urged changes, including the removal of Prime Minister Hesham Kandil.

The limited reshuffle is unlikely to satisfy his opponents or help build political consensus in the country, which is still struggling to establish a stable system in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution that removed Hosni Mubarak from power.

Two of the ousted ministers were involved in crucial talks with the IMF over a $4.8 billion loan to Egypt, Reuters reported.

Nine new ministers were named, including Amr Darrag, a senior official in the Muslim Brotherhood movement’s Freedom and Justice Party, who was appointed planning minister, according to Reuters.

Another Brotherhood member, Yehya Hamed, was named investment minister, and Ahmed el-Gezawi, an FJP member, took over agriculture, lifting the movement's share to around a third of the cabinet's 35 portfolios.

Fayyad Abdel Moneim, a specialist in Islamic economics, was appointed as finance minister, replacing Al-Mursi Al-Sayed Hegaz, Reuters said.

Amr Moussa, Egypt's former foreign minister, former head of the Arab League and currently one of the leaders of the opposition National Salvation Front, said in a statement: “The cabinet reshuffle has not added or changed much. We will need another reshuffle soon."

“We need [a] national-unity-based government with high expertise so people can trust it. The challenges are huge," he added. "Therefore the current government will not be able to handle the situation. The current reshuffle reflects another complete Brotherhood-ization. Wouldn't it have been more useful to take a bigger step towards national cooperation and unity?”

Morsi announced on April 20 that he would carry out the reshuffle to replace a government widely criticized for failing to get the economy moving nine months into his presidency.

"The reshuffle is unlikely to signal any real shift in policy, particularly from an economic perspective," Said Hirsh, a London-based economist, told Reuters. "If anything, it deals a blow to demands for political consensus which the government seems to have ignored." 

Reuters and NBC News' Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report.

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