Egypt's Finance Minister ousted in post-Mubarak cabinet purge

The Egyptian Finance Minister became the latest in a series of senior officials to resign yesterday, ahead of a cabinet reshuffle designed to appease protesters demanding that remnants of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime are purged.

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.

It came as reports began to emerge last night about the former dictator's health. Reuters reported that Mubarak was in a coma, citing his lawyer, but the claims could not be immediately verified.

Samir Radwan, appointed shortly before Mubarak left office, will be replaced by Hazem el-Beblawi, a 74-year-old economist and former executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Committee for Western Africa, who has also been named as a deputy to the Prime Minister.

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 has become "confused".

The purge is one of several concessions offered by the caretaker government and the ruling military council in recent weeks. The army is the target of increasing anger, and a general who addressed crowds of demonstrators at Tahrir on Saturday, was heckled and booed. It's a long way from the scenes of earlier demonstrations, where the chant "The army and the people are one hand", was regularly heard.