Egypt changes defense, interior ministers in cabinet overhaul
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Egypt changes defense, interior ministers in cabinet overhaul

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi shuffles officials as he pledges to combat Islamic State affiliate group in Sinai

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi addresses the chamber after he was sworn in for a second four-year term in Cairo, June 2, 2018. (Egypt’s presidency media office via AP)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi addresses the chamber after he was sworn in for a second four-year term in Cairo, June 2, 2018. (Egypt’s presidency media office via AP)

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

Sissi swept to another four years in office against a token challenger 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 the Islamic State group in the restive 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 Sissi when he ran for the top office in 2014, a year after spearheading the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi during mass protests.

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 June 5, days after Sissi was inaugurated for a second term.

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

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

Sissi, who has been accused of stamping out dissent in the country, 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.

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