CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has asked Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to form a new cabinet, a state newspaper reported on Wednesday, but senior officials expect few changes in important economic ministries.
The economy portfolios in the existing cabinet of Nazif, who was appointed in July 2004, are held by liberals who have reinvigorated a privatisation programme, slashed taxes and implemented other reforms that have been praised by investors.
A reshuffle is a routine procedure after parliamentary elections, which ended on Dec. 7. Mubarak”s ruling party won an overwhelming majority in the vote, which rights groups and observers said was marred by widespread abuses.
The state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper said Nazif was holding consultations, after he had been asked to form the new government by Mubarak during a meeting on Tuesday.
"It is expected that Nazif will complete his consultations before the end of this month," the newspaper reported.
The prime minister”s main focus has traditionally been managing the economy and senior officials do not expect changes at the finance, investment and trade and industry ministries, which make up the core group of economic reformists.
Other portfolios such as foreign affairs, defence and interior are widely viewed as being areas Mubarak directly controls, even if they officially answer to the prime minister.
The Ahram article also said Mubarak met Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit and Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday, but did not give details of those discussions.
Government spokespeople had no immediate comment on the newspaper report.