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Egypt Replaces Several Mubarak-Era Ministers

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European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton talks to Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq in Cairo, Egypt,Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. | AP

CAIRO — Egypt's military rulers swore in a Cabinet with 11 new ministers Tuesday, a nod to the protest movement that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

However, three former members of the Mubarak regime retained senior posts.

The move comes as the military leadership overseeing the country's transition is trying to assure Egyptians that it is committed to democratic reforms.

However, the decision to keep Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Justice Minister Mamdouh Marie – three former Mubarak's loyalists – in their post drew criticism from youth activists who helped launch the uprising on Jan. 25.

Mohammed Abbas, a member of the Egypt Youth Coalition, described the changes as "patchwork." He called for swift, comprehensive changes.

He said the youth groups hope to draw one million to a rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the center of the uprising, on Friday, and will urge them to stay overnight. "We have to keep the pressure until all our demands are met," he said.

The new Cabinet includes independents and members of opposition parties for the first time in decades, pushing out the longtime ministers of oil, social justice and labor.

The new Cabinet also included two Coptic Christians, including an ex-lawmaker.

Among the new names were Monier Fakhri Abdel Nour, a Coptic member of the Wafd opposition party as minister of tourism, filling a position that has been vacant since Zuhair Garana was jailed on corruption charges.

Top leftist Tagammu party member Gouda Abdel Khaleq also was named minister of social justice.

Warning of new mass protests, the young activists who led the movement have pressed the military council to form a broad-based government that excludes Mubarak's cronies, release political prisoners and abolish laws on political parties and allow free and fair election.

The military council already has dissolved parliament, which was stacked with members of Mubarak's National Democratic party, and suspended the constitution.

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