Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Mubarak appoints new finance and interior ministers

January 31, 2011 |  4:36 am


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appointed two new members to his Cabinet after asking his government to resign on Saturday, Arab-language television stations reported Monday.

He appointed a former director of prisons, Gen. Mohammad Wagdi, as the new interior minister and Jawdat Mult as finance minister in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to deflect blame for Egypt's troubles, calm angry protesters and possibly prepare for a crackdown.

Wagdy replaces Habib Adly as chief of the hated and dreaded Interior Ministry, which oversees the police as well as the regime's notorious plainclothes henchmen.

He had already appointed his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as his first-ever vice president, and former air force commander Ahmed Shafik as the new prime minister.

Mubarak seems to be surrounding himself with hard-line security officials, possibly to protect himself from a military coup but more likely to lay the groundwork to use force to crush the protests, which appear to be gathering momentum and threaten Mubarak's 30-year-rule.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: An Egyptian soldier in Cairo's Tahrir Square prepares to shoot into the air Monday to disperse angry protesters who attacked a civilian, thinking he was a plainclothes policeman. The biggest anti-government protests in three decades are aimed at toppling President Hosni Mubarak's  regime. Credit: KHALED DESOUKI /AFP/Getty Images