Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi swore in a new government Saturday, a week after former prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab and his cabinet resigned following a corruption scandal. Sharif Ismail, who served as a petroleum minister under the previous government, will now take over as the prime minister.
Tarek al-Mullah, former head of the state-run oil company Egyptian General Petroleum Corp., will succeed Ismail as the petroleum minister, according to local media reports. The finance, investment and interior ministers have not been replaced.
Mahlab submitted his resignation on Sept. 12 after the former agriculture minister Salah El Din Mahmoud Helal was arrested “in connection with a corruption case involving illegal land licenses.” Mahlab was appointed as prime minister last year after serving as the minister of housing.
According to Agence France-Presse, which cited an anonymous government official, the reshuffle, which is the first such move since Sisi won last year’s elections, was meant to “pump new blood” into the government.
In addition to overhauling the country’s economy -- plagued with an energy crisis and dearth of foreign investment -- the new government also faces a significant security challenge. In recent months, the Islamic State group, backed by its local affiliate -- the Sinai Province -- has stepped up attacks in the country.
Despite intensified military crackdown by the Sisi-led government, the Sunni militant group has, on several occasions, targeted Egyptian army checkpoints and police targets, killing hundreds in bombing and shooting attacks. Most recently, in July, at least 50 soldiers were killed in a wave of coordinated attacks across several checkpoints in the restive Sinai Peninsula.