Cairo: Egypt's new cabinet was sworn on Thursday in a bid to appease protesters demanding faster political reforms and a purge of politicians close to the Mubarak regime as the country prepares for a general elections in October.
   
The new ministers in Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's cabinet was sworn in the presence of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the commander of the Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces (SCAF) that governs the country following the ouster of President Hosni Mubark in February in a popular uprising.
   
The cabinet reshuffle, the second since the uprising against Mubarak, was one of the key demands of the activists who have been camping at the iconic Tahrir square for the past three weeks seeking faster political reforms in the post-Mubarak phase.
   
Several controversial ministers, including Mansur Essawy, the interior minister protesters wanted fired, kept their posts. Electricity Minister Hassan Yunis and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abul Naga were was retained, according to media reports.
   
Mohamed Kamel Amr took the oath as the Foreign Minister, official news agency MENA was quoted as saying in a media report.
   
In a related development, the country's military council said Egypt will go for new general elections in October, but has barred international monitors to observe the upcoming polls, designed to move the nation back to civilian rule.
   
The Council said that preparations for the elections to the Lower and Upper Houses would be completed by September and voting will begin "30 days later" in three stages, Al Arabiya news channel reported.
   
"The exact poll dates for the Parliamentary elections, the first since January 25 uprising, would be announced after September 18," General Mamdouh Shaheen, a ruling Council member told reporters here.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sharaf's new cabinet includes two deputy prime ministers: Ali al-Salmi, as deputy premier for political development and democratic transition and
minister of public enterprises and Dr Hazim al-Biblawi as deputy premier and finance minister as well as 12 other ministers.

   
One of the last-minute changes includes appointing Mohammed Abd-al- Kader Salem, adviser to the former communications minister, to the communications and information technology portfolio.
   
He is to replace Dr Hazim Abd-al-Azim, who was nominated to take the post of communications minister in the cabinet reshuffle, was excluded from the line-up over his alleged links to a company that has connections with Israeli companies.

     
After the oath ceremony, Tantawi, who served as Mubarak's defence minister for two decades, held a meeting with the cabinet's 27 ministers and stressed the priority of retrieving stability and preparing the country for democracy as well as a civilian government.

   
Sharaf had hoped the new cabinet would appease the activists who have been camping in Cairo's Tahrir Square since July 8 against the slow pace of political reforms and retaining politicians close to the Mubarak regime in the cabinet.
   
However, preliminary reactions show they are not yet pleased.
   
They objected to the appointment of minister of information, the continuation of the minister of the interior in his post in addition to other demands that have not been met such as the defining a minimum wage and avenging the lives lost during the revolution
   
The protesters have called for a "Decisive Friday" mass demonstration tomorrow.
   
General Shaheen, who outlined the new poll laws, said barring foreign monitors was necessary step to protect Egypt's sovereignty, a decision which was swiftly criticised by thousands of activists staging a renewed sit-in at the Tahrir Square, who said it would raise doubts about the transparency of the process.
   
"We have nothing to hide," the General claimed, but we reject anything that affects our sovereignty.

(Agencies)