Cairo: Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammad Mursi is set to announce a cabinet reshuffle, a presidential aide said on Saturday, but it is unlikely to meet opposition demands for a complete overhaul of the government.
Mursi wrote on his Twitter account that he would make “a ministerial change” and replace provincial governors, adding the posts would go to “those who are most qualified.”
A presidential palace official said Mursi’s quote was taken from an interview that was to be aired Saturday night on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television channel.
A senior presidential aide said Mursi may announce the changes by the end of the week, which in Egypt will be on Thursday.
“There will be six to eight ministers, and wide-ranging changes among [provincial] governors,” he said.
“The ministries that will be affected include some important ones,” he added. “I can’t mention which ones because, as you know, this is a sensitive matter.”
Mursi has repeatedly declared his confidence in Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, whose sacking is demanded by a coalition of opposition groups as a condition for dropping a boycott of parliamentary elections, possibly in the autumn.
Egyptian newspapers have reported that Mursi may replace Justice Minister Ahmad Mekki and other less prominent ministers.
The opposition remains steadfast in its demand for a national unity government, in a protracted deadlock with Mursi that has delayed a much needed $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Mursi insists it is up to the next parliament to form a new government.
Qandil’s government, appointed after Mursi’s election in June, has tried to cope with a haemorrhaging economy despite billions of dollars in aid from energy-rich Qatar and some other countries.
The government says unemployment, a main grievance among young protesters who helped overthrow president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, has risen since the uprising, while foreign investments and tourism revenues have shrunk.
The Egyptian pound, meanwhile, has dropped by roughly 10 percent to the dollar since December as Qandil’s government tries to negotiate the IMF loan it hopes will restore investor confidence in the often restive country.
The loan had been delayed after a wave of protests last winter following Mursi’s assumption of extensive powers. Mursi was forced to cancel tax increases, part of the economic reforms demanded by the IMF, to ward off further unrest.
The presidency is expected to unroll cuts to fuel subsidies by next fall, reforms that could possibly stoke an increase in prices and further unrest.
Mursi’s supporters have argued that frequent protests, which devolve in clashes with police, are a main obstacle to the country’s economic recovery.