Finance Minister quits as street protests resume

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Egypt's Finance Minister became the latest senior official to resign yesterday, ahead of a cabinet reshuffle that is designed to appease protesters who want remnants of ex-president Hosni Mubarak's regime to be purged.

The embattled Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf, promised a government shake-up after demonstrators, frustrated with the slow pace of reform, returned to camp out in Tahrir Square – the focal point of the protests that toppled Mubarak after 30 years in power.

Samir Radwan, appointed shortly before Mubarak fell, will be replaced by Hazem el-Beblawi, a 74-year-old economist and former executive secretary of the UN's Economic and Social Committee for Western Africa, who has also been named as one of two deputies to the Prime Minister.

The Industry Minister, Samir el-Sayyad, also quit yesterday, following Foreign Minister Mohammed el-Orabi's resignation the day before, after less than a month in office. As many as 15 ministers are likely to be replaced.

"People don't know what they want," said Mr Radwan, complaining that policy-making had become "confused". The purge is among concessions offered by the caretaker government and ruling military council in recent weeks.

The army is the target of increasing anger. A general who addressed crowds of demonstrators at Tahrir Square on Saturday was heckled. It was a far cry from earlier demonstrations where the chant "the army and the people are one hand" was regularly heard.

Other concessions include the promise of an end to protesters being tried in military courts and the postponement of parliamentary elections from September to November, which will give parties more time to organise.