Egypt reinstates Information Ministry in cabinet portfolio reshuffle

Osama Haikal, who served as information minister from 2011 to 2012, will return as Ministry of State for Information Affairs

Egypt will reinstate the country's information ministry and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has put the prime minister directly in charge of the government's investment portfolio, in a cabinet reshuffle approved by parliament on Sunday.

Osama Haikal, who served as information minister from 2011 to 2012, will return as Ministry of State for Information Affairs, according to the plans announced by Sisi's office. Egypt had abolished its Information Ministry in 2014.

It did not say what would be the main responsibilities of the ministry, which rights groups say was a symbol of censorship under the rule of Hosni Mubarak. Sisi has already set up a new regulatory agency to oversee output from the entertainment and news industries, with the power to fine or suspend publications and broadcasters and give or revoke licenses for foreign media.

Human rights organizations and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have repeatedly criticized media freedoms in Egypt, which jailed the third most journalists of any country in the world this year, the CPJ said this month.

In the reshuffle, which had been rumored for weeks, Sisi left key portfolios like defense, interior, finance and foreign affairs unchanged but gave Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly direct oversight of the investment portfolio. It was not immediately clear if the portfolio will remain a ministry. Barring its oil sector, Egypt has struggled to attract foreign direct investment over the past several years.

Egypt President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Egypt President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi YouTube grab

Rania al-Mashat, formerly the tourism minister, will now head the International Cooperation Ministry as part of the reshuffle. That ministry was formerly the Investment and International Cooperation Ministry and was headed by Sahar Nasr, who served as international cooperation minister since 2015 and also took on the investment portfolio in 2017.

Khaled al-Anany will succeed Mashat as tourism minister and also retain his existing role as antiquities minister. Hala al-Saeed will continue as planning minister but will now also oversee economic development. Her portfolio was previously planning, follow-up and administrative reform.

Nevine Gamea, who headed Egypt's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency, will be the new Industry Minister, succeeding Amr Nassar. The new ministers were sworn in after parliament approved the changes earlier on Sunday.