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Egyptian cabinet to be reshuffled by end of week: report

People walk in front of parliament in Cairo March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
People walk in front of parliament in Cairo March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian cabinet will be reshuffled by the end of the week, a state-run newspaper reported, pointing to a delay in efforts to revamp a government widely criticized for failing to get the economy moving and to conclude a much-needed IMF loan deal.

President Mohamed Mursi announced on April 20 he would carry out the reshuffle, generating hope of a more inclusive cabinet that could build political consensus around talks with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8 billion loan program.

Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said on April 22 the reshuffle would be completed by early last week. A presidential spokesman said on April 24 it would be done "within days".

The IMF has stressed the need for broad political support for a loan deal seen as vital to easing Egypt's economic crisis but which is also likely to bring with it politically-sensitive austerity measures such as tax increases and subsidy cuts. Cairo failed to reach an agreement with IMF officials last month.

But Kandil is set to stay in office and Mursi's most vocal opponents are not expected to be included in a limited reshuffle that falls short of their demands for a complete overhaul of the cabinet before parliamentary elections expected later this year.

State-run Al Gomhuria newspaper on Sunday quoted sources in the Muslim Brotherhood - the movement behind Mursi - as saying "the reshuffle will see the light at the end of the week". The sources said it had taken longer than expected because The presidency was seeking people with the right experience.

But Al Masry Al Youm, an independently owned newspaper that is critical of Mursi, said Kandil was struggling to complete the reshuffle because candidates were refusing to work with him.

"You have to be a true patriot to take a job in the cabinet now," said Elijah Zarwan, a Cairo-based political analyst. "Certainly the opposition seems much more comfortable watching the current government fail than in sharing the blame."

A government spokesman contacted by Reuters declined to say when the reshuffle would be announced. "The consultations are still going on," Alaa El Hadidi said.

Al-Ahram, another state-run newspaper, reported last week that the reshuffle would involve the ministries of justice, legal affairs, culture, agriculture, planning and international cooperation, and an economic portfolio.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Pravin Char)

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