Egypt changes defense, interior ministers in cabinet overhaul

Updated 15 June 2018
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Egypt changes defense, interior ministers in cabinet overhaul

  • Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed was named minister of defense, replacing Sedki Sobhi.
  • El-Sisi in April won re-election with 97 percent of the vote.

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi replaced the interior and defense ministers in a major reshuffle Thursday, with security forces battling an Islamist insurgency at the start of his second term.
El-Sisi, who also named a new finance minister, swept to another four years in office against a token challenger at elections in March, pledging to tackle the raft of security and economic challenges facing the country.
Egyptian forces have since February been waging a sweeping operation against the local affiliate of the Daesh group in the restive North Sinai province.
The new cabinet under freshly appointed Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, who previously served as housing minister, was sworn in live on state TV.
General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, who led the republican guard since August 2012, became the new defense minister in place of Sedki Sobhi.
Sobhi had held the post since taking over from El-Sisi when he ran for the top office in 2014, a year after spearheading the ouster of president Muhammad Mursi during mass protests.
The position of interior minister was filled by General Mahmoud Tawfiq, who had led the national security apparatus since October 2017, replacing Magdi Abdel Ghaffar.
Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Moeet, who has previously held several government posts in various ministries, replaced Amr el-Garhy in the key role of finance minister.
Egyptian authorities are implementing a sweeping economic reform program that prompted the International Monetary Fund to approve a three-year, $12-billion loan in November 2016.
Authorities have since also floated Egypt’s currency, cut fuel subsidies and adopted a value added tax, measures which have led to soaring consumer prices.
Other changes included the ministers overseeing aviation, health, communications, environment, commerce and agriculture.
The former cabinet resigned on June 5, days after El-Sisi was inaugurated for a second term.
El-Sisi has long promised to wipe out the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai as a spate of deadly attacks have hit the country.
Officials say more than 200 jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed since the military launched the “Sinai 2018” operation.
El-Sisi, who has been accused of stamping out dissent in the country, was re-elected in March for his second term with 97 percent of the vote.
He faced only one little-known challenger after more serious opponents were either detained or sidelined.


Bahrain suspends visas for Qatari nationals

Updated 25 min 6 sec ago
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Bahrain suspends visas for Qatari nationals

JEDDAH: Bahrain has suspended issuing entry visas to Qatari nationals as part of the dispute between between Arab countries and Doha.

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt launched a boycott of Qatar in June last year, accusing the country of links to terrorism.

The quartet cut off diplomatic, transport and economic ties with Qatar some trvel restrictions were placed on nationals travelling between the countries. 

"The Ministry of Interior has announced the suspension of the issuance of entry visas for Qatari nationals,” the Bahrain News Agency reported.

Qatari students who study in Bahrain will be excluded, along with those with valid visas, the ministry said.

The statement said the decision was not taken because of Qatari nationals “who share brotherly ties with Bahrainis, but as result of irresponsible acts of Qatari authorities that do not consider the rights of neighbouring countries or the principles of the international law,” the ministry said.