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Egypt being governed same way as before, PM says

Yasmine Saleh

13egypt.reuters.com.jpeg

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik speaks during a news conference in Cairo February 13, 2011.


February 13, 2011

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's new prime minister said on Sunday the country was being governed in the same way it was under the ousted president -- remarks likely to infuriate protesters keen to dismantle Hosni Mubarak's ruling system.

Apparently seeking to reassure Egyptians that everything was under control, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said government affairs were being presented to the Higher Military Council, "as they were presented to the president of the republic".

"There is no change in the form, method or process of work. Matters are completely stable," he told a news conference.

Shafiq was appointed by Mubarak after he sacked his former cabinet on Jan. 29 in a vain effort to quell an uprising against his rule.

Mubarak stepped down on Friday, handing power to the Higher Military Council, headed by Defence Minister and armed forces commander Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. The council said on Saturday Shafiq's government would stay on until a new one was formed.

"All matters are presented to the higher council, and the president of the higher council, as they were presented to the president of the republic," Shafiq said, signalling no alteration yet to the system of rule protesters want to change.

Shafiq said he believed Mubarak was in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and that the cabinet had not made any request to freeze the deposed president's assets abroad. The cabinet spokesman added that "if there is a need, they will do it".

Shafiq said the military would decide the role of Omar Suleiman, who was appointed vice president by Mubarak last month. Suleiman's position has been in doubt since Mubarak resigned on Friday, handing power to the armed forces.

ECONOMY

Finance Minister Samir Radwan told the same conference he expected economic growth to slow to 3.5 to 4 percent in the 2010/11 financial year. Before the upheaval, officials had forecast about 6 percent growth.

Egypt's economy is "solid and cohesive", Shafiq said. "We have enough reserves in the coming period and our situation is comforting, very comforting."

He added that he did not expect Egypt's nuclear power plant projects to be affected despite political turmoil. The country has said it aims to build four nuclear plants by 2025.

But if instability continues, he added, "some obstacles may occur and there may be some delay," without giving details.

He also pledged to fight corruption, another grievance that fuelled the uprising. "I guarantee that this (cabinet) will return rights to the people and fight corruption," he said.

(Additional reporting by Dina Zayed and Edmund Blair, Writing by Tom Perry and Alexander Dziadosz, Editing by Alistair Lyon and Elizabeth Fullerton)





:: Article nr. 74944 sent on 13-feb-2011 21:04 ECT

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Link: in.reuters.com/article/2011/02/13/idINIndia-54864520110213



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