Egypt changes defense, interior ministers in Cabinet overhaul


CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi replaced the interior and defense ministers in a major reshuffle on Thursday, with security forces battling an insurgency at the start of his second term.

El-Sisi swept to another four years in office at elections in March, pledging to tackle the raft of security and economic challenges facing the country.

Egyptian forces have since February been waging a sweeping operation against the local affiliate of Daesh (the so-called IS) in the North Sinai province.

The new Cabinet under freshly-appointed Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, who previously served as housing minister, was sworn in live on state TV.

General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, who led the republican guard since August 2012, became the new defense minister in place of Sedki Sobhi.

Sobhi had held the post since taking over from El-Sisi when he ran for the top office in 2014.

The position of interior minister was filled by General Mahmoud Tawfiq, who had led the national security apparatus since October 2017, replacing Magdi Abdel Ghaffar.

The new Cabinet represented a major overhaul, with fresh faces appointed to ten other ministerial positions, including the key finance portfolio.

Other changes included the ministers overseeing aviation, health, communications, environment, commerce and agriculture.

The former Cabinet, led by premier Sherif Ismail, resigned on June 5, days after El-Sisi was inaugurated for a second term.

El-Sisi has long promised to wipe out the insurgency in Sinai as a spate of deadly attacks have hit the country.

Officials say more than 200 militants and at least 35 soldiers have been killed since the military launched the “Sinai 2018” operation.

El-Sisi was re-elected in March for his second term with 97 percent of the vote.

He faced only one little-known challenger after more serious opponents were either detained or sidelined. — AFP