Britain criticises Egyptian cabinet reshuffle

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement of a new cabinet is not enough to resolve the mass protests engulfing the country, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday.

"I don't think they've taken a big enough step towards resolving this crisis," Hague told the BBC when asked about the reshuffle unviled by the embattled Egyptian leader on Monday.

In a move widely seen as a sop to opponents of his three-decade rule, Mubarak on Monday unveiled a new cabinet line up in which widely hated interior minister Habib al-Adly and the finance and culture ministers were axed.

"I don't think it's changed enough, unfortunately. This is not the broad-based government that we have called for, that our European Union partners yesterday joined us in calling for," said Hague.

He added that there needed to be "some real and visible reform and free and fair elections. I think that is the way to have what we've called an orderly transition in Egypt."

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman earlier described the reshuffle as "disappointing", saying that the Egyptian government had to "listen to the asipirations of its people."

"It is clear from yesterday's cabinet appointments that this is not yet happening and we consider that to be disappointing," the spokesman told a briefing.

Hague refused to be drawn on whether Mubarak should quit in the face of fresh protests involving hundreds of thousands of people on Tuesday.

"What we're trying to do is to say we don't pick the president of another sovereign nation, what we are able to do is give advice on the values, the instutitions, the freedoms," he said.

Hague earlier announced that he was sending a charter plane to Cairo on Wednesday to pick up any British nationals who wished to leave Egypt.

© 2011 AFP

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