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Published: Monday June 16, 2014 MYT 1:10:01 AM
Updated: Monday June 16, 2014 MYT 1:11:02 AM

Egypt cabinet formation delayed as PM continues talks

CAIRO (Reuters) - The expected formation of Egypt's new cabinet has been held up after several candidates turned down offers of ministerial positions from Prime Minister Ibrahim Melheb, two government sources said on Sunday.

Melheb is forming a new government following President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's election victory last month. He had not been expected to make sweeping changes, and officials had said he would unveil his new cabinet on Sunday.

But government sources said on Sunday evening the premier was still trying to fill several portfolios.

“There have been apologies from some of the nominated candidates including those who were asked for the ministries of investment, justice, culture and information," one source said.

"The prime minister is still conducting talks and holding meetings to pick other new candidates for those ministries."

Both sources said it was unclear when the cabinet would be finalised, but Al-Ahram newspaper said it would be completed by Tuesday at the latest. The cabinet spokesman was not immediately reachable for comment.

The sources did not say why the candidates tapped to serve in Melheb's government had turned down the offers.

However since the 2011 overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak several people have rejected cabinet jobs, fearing it could open them up to potential legal complaints after a number of former cabinet ministers faced charges of corruption or taking decisions which were not in the national interest.

Sisi reappointed Melheb as prime minister after his inauguration last Sunday. Government sources have said Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian is expected to stay, as are the ministers for planning and international cooperation, supplies, housing, industry, defence and interior.

Keeping the main ministers could allow Sisi to implement quickly the types of reform urged by the United Arab Emirates - one of the Gulf states that gave billions of dollars in aid after Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was ousted by the army in July in reaction to mass protests against his rule.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Mark Potter)

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