CAIRO – Egypt swore in 10 new ministers Sunday in a Cabinet shake-up aimed at improving the government’s handling of the country’s ailing economy ahead of talks this week with the International Monetary Fund over a badly needed $4.8 billion loan.
The reshuffle, which President Mohammed Morsi had promised in response to public anger over Egypt’s economic malaise, affected two key ministries, the interior and finance. It also solidified Islamist control of the government, putting three portfolios in the hands of members of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The dire state of Egypt’s economy was punctuated Sunday by new central bank figures that put December’s foreign currency reserves at $15.01 billion, down $26 million from a month earlier. The reserves have dropped by more than half since the uprising that ousted longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
Pakistan, India clash over border crossing
Pakistan and India traded accusations Sunday of violating the cease-fire in the disputed northern region of Kashmir, with Islamabad accusing Indian troops of a cross-border raid that killed one of its soldiers and India charging that Pakistani shelling destroyed a home on its side.
The accusation of a border crossing resulting in military deaths is unusual in Kashmir, where a cease-fire has held between these two wary, nuclear-armed rivals for a decade.
Just last month, the two countries announced a new visa regime designed to make cross-border travel easier.
Palestinian regime says it’s in jeopardy
The Palestinian self-rule government is in extreme jeopardy because of an unprecedented financial crisis, largely because Arab countries have failed to send hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid, the Palestinian prime minister said Sunday.
The cash crunch has gradually worsened in recent years, and the Palestinian Authority now has reached the point of not being able to pay the salaries of about 150,000 government employees, Salam Fayyad told The Associated Press. The number of Palestinian poor is bound to quickly double to 50 percent of the population of roughly 4 million if the crisis continues, he said.
The status quo is not sustainable, Fayyad said in an interview at his West Bank office.
The Palestinian Authority, set up two decades ago as part of interim peace deals with Israel, is on the verge of being completely incapacitated, Fayyad warned.
Mandela recovering from lung infection
South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela has recovered from his recent lung infection and a surgical procedure to remove gallstones, according to an announcement Sunday by President Jacob Zuma.
Doctors say that Mandela, 94, has made steady progress and that clinically, he continues to improve, according to a statement issued by Zuma’s office. Mandela was hospitalized for nearly three weeks in December before going home on Dec. 26.
Zuma’s statement said Mandela continues to receive high care at his home in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg.