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Mubarak ministers stay after Cabinet purge

CAIRO, July 18 (UPI) -- Egypt's justice and interior ministers, divisive post-Mubarak regime figures, will survive Monday's Cabinet purge, Egypt's state-run news agency reported.

Justice Minister Mohamed al-Guindi and Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy have faced blistering criticism from Cairo activists demanding their dismissal as embattled Prime Minister Essam Sharaf sought to replace up to 15 Cabinet ministers. The overhaul is intended to appease an increasingly restive public demanding the government purge all politicians linked to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

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Thousands of protesters occupying Cairo's Tahrir Square -- some for weeks but most in surging numbers the past 10 days -- have demanded al-Guindi be removed due to what they claim is the slow pace of prosecution of Mubarak and other former officials accused of corruption, and of security officers accused of murdering protesters during the January and early February popular uprising.

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They insist Essawy, in charge of law enforcement, also be removed because of what activists allege is an ongoing security void since the first anti-Mubarak protest took place Jan. 28 and for allegedly not holding abusive police officials responsible for corruption, exploitation and other alleged misconduct.

They claim only one officer has been convicted of wrongdoing and he is not in jail.

Mubarak is set to be tried Aug. 3 on charges of corruption and ordering demonstrators killed.

Mubarak was reported in stable condition in a hospital in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheik after his lawyer said Sunday the 83-year-old former ruler had suffered a stroke and slipped briefly into a coma. State television and the hospital denied he had been in a coma, saying he simply had a temporary bout of low blood pressure.

The protesters also insist the executive power of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has controlled Egypt since Mubarak's ouster Feb. 11, be curbed. They accuse the ruling military council of deliberately stifling revolutionary progress.

Maj. Gen. Hassan al-Rowini, a council member, told local media Sharaf was not entitled to appoint or dismiss Cabinet ministers under the interim constitution.

He said the council, headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, formerly Mubarak's defense minister, had "sole authority" over Cabinet personnel, The Guardian reported Monday.

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Protesters have already drawn comparisons between recent public statements by the council and the rhetoric deployed by Mubarak's regime, the British newspaper said.

Egypt's finance and foreign ministers resigned during the weekend, with Foreign Minister Mohamed el-Orabi saying he was stepping down to "honor the will of the people" after protesters charged him with being a longtime Mubarak supporter.

Their resignations followed those of the industry and education ministers, as well as Antiquities Affairs Minister Zahi Hawass, who gained U.S. celebrity status for his History Channel reality TV series "Chasing Mummies."

Sharaf Sunday got council approval to appoint Hazem el-Beblawi to serve as deputy prime minister for economic affairs and finance minister, the Middle East News Agency reported.

Sharaf also received clearance to appoint a second deputy prime minister, Ali al-Selmy, to oversee political development and democratic transition. al-Selmy will be tasked with building democratic institutions as Egypt gears up for parliamentary elections, scheduled to take place in the fall, The Washington Post reported.

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