New Egyptian Minister of Culture resigns for ‘health reasons’

In the first surprise by the new Egyptian government headed by Ahmed Shafiq, Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour rendered his resignation for purported health reasons.

Some believe Asfour resigned due to disapproval from intellectuals against his appointment at this critical juncture following the 25 January revolution that resulted in the dismissal former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif’s government. A source close to Asfour said the resignation included a number of reasons that would be revealed at a later time.

A few hours before submitting his resignation on Wednesday, Asfour met with ministry officials to discuss complaints by employees demanding improved salaries and the dismissal of certain ministry officials. He decided to form a committee to receive complaints from employees, who had staged protests before the National Archives, the Book Authority and the National Center for Translation.

Though Asfour has indeed suffered several health crises over the past few years, he was criticized for having accepted an appointment by a regime that the popular revolution wants to bring down.

Meanwhile, hundreds of ministry employees on Wednesday staged protests demanding the cancellation of certain ministry projects, such as the Museum of Civilization, the Grand Egyptian Museum and the Historic Cairo project.

Minister of state for antiquities Zahi Hawass said he would not provide consultation for those projects. He also said it was difficult to increase salaries and bonuses, especially in light of a drop in tourism due to the current political crisis.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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