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Disputed premier to stay in Egypt reshuffle

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, widely criticised for failing to revive the economy, will keep his job in a limited cabinet reshuffle to be announced within days, a presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Ehab Fahmy told a news conference: "It is a limited reshuffle and the prime minister is not included."

Some members of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood have joined the secular, liberal and leftist opposition and hardline Salafist parties in criticising Kandil.

"The reshuffle aims to improve the performance level of ministries ... Talks are still going on with regard to those changes. They will be announced within days. The main criterion for selection will be qualifications," the spokesman said.

The limited scope of the planned shake-up appeared to narrow prospects of any political agreement between Mursi and the main opposition parties, despite U.S., European and International Monetary Fund efforts to seek a broader consensus to help Egypt over a severe economic crisis.

Fahmy said Egypt was close to agreement with the IMF on a $4.8 billion loan. An IMF mission failed to conclude a deal during a 12-day visit to Cairo earlier this month but talks are set to continue in the coming weeks, ministers and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde agreed in Washington last weekend.

Fahmy said the presidency was conferring with a range of political groups, including the opposition National Salvation Front, an alliance of secular, liberal and leftist parties, about the composition of the new government.

However, the NSF has denied holding talks about the reshuffle, saying Mursi must first agree to replace Kandil, appoint a neutral, competent government and revoke a disputed prosecutor-general before they will open a dialogue with him.

NSF spokesman Khaled Dawoud demanded that key ministers whose posts could influence the conduct of parliamentary elections later this year be politically neutral. These included the interior, transport, local government, education, information and supply ministries.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing by Alison Williams)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130424/disputed-premier-stay-egypt-reshuffle-0