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Egypt appoints new government

Egypt's new prime minister has announced his cabinet. It is the first big political move by a statesman who, until his own appointment, was an obscure figure in Egypt's political landscape.

Egypt's Prime Minister Hesham Kandil has chosen a new government, in which the finance and foreign ministers will keep their jobs, state television said on Wednesday.

Both Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said said they would continue in their positions after coming out of a meeting with Kandil. The latter had said he wanted to work with a highly competent government of technocrats.

One notable change in the shake-up was the inclusion of the investment ministry portfolio in the cabinet; the post had been excluded from the cabinets formed since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Mysterious new statesman

The cabinet announcement delivers the first big insight into Kandil's plans for Egypt's governance, an individual about whom little was known before he was appointed. He used to serve as the country's irrigation minister. The last time the statesman made headlines, it was for persuading a suicidal employ not to kill themselves by jumping out of a window.

Now Kandil faces the daunting task of carrying out Morsi's ambitious agenda for tightening security in Egypt and improving the quality of life of ordinary Egyptians. But the military, which has possessed legislative powers since a court disbanded the country's parliament last month, still has control of Egypts budget, limiting Kandil's leverage.

He will also have to contend with the skepticism of Morsi's secular allies, who fear that Kandil may, like Morsi, be an Islamist.

sej/ng (AFP, Reuters)

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