CAIRO — Egypt's new interim government was sworn in Saturday, a lightly reshuffled Cabinet with familiar faces that keeps powerful ministers in charge of the country's security and military services in place ahead of an anticipated presidential election.
The new Cabinet, Egypt's sixth government since its 2011 revolt against autocrat Hosni Mubarak, retains Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi as defense minister. Many believe the wildly popular el-Sissi, who led the July 3 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, will run for president.
The change of government before the presidential vote appeared orchestrated to curb rising criticism of the outgoing military-backed Cabinet, which was accused of failing to stem widening labor strikes and continued protests. The new lineup by new interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlib largely removed Cabinet members belonging to political parties formed after the 2011 revolt, replacing them with technocrats or business executives.
In state-televised footage from the presidential palace, a total of 31 ministers were sworn in, led by Mehlib, the outgoing housing minister. He is a construction magnate who also held a senior position in the now-dissolved party of Mubarak.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who oversees the country's police, also remains in place despite wide criticism of his performance in handling rising violence and for using heavy-handed tactics against dissent.
Mehlib's Cabinet keeps 20 ministers from former Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi's government and appoints 11 new ones. The new Cabinet includes three Christians and four women, but no Islamists.
Among the changes, new Justice Minister Nayer Othman replaced a veteran judge from the Mubarak era who has been accused of corruption. New Finance Minister Hani Kadry Demian is a senior ministry official who played a key role in Egypt's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a loan over the last years of turmoil. Demian resigned from his post during Morsi's tenure.
El-Beblawi issued a surprise resignation Monday.