Egyptian justice minister resigns ahead of cabinet reshuffle

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Egypt’s Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky resigned on Sunday ahead of a cabinet reshuffle in which he was expected to be replaced, state media reported.

Mekky submitted his resignation to President Mohamed Mursi on Saturday, said Justice Ministry spokesman Ahmed Salam. It followed a protest on Friday by Mursi’s Islamist backers demanding the “purification” of the judiciary.

A bill has been submitted to parliament which critics say would give the government too much control over the make-up of the judiciary.

Mekky, who was appointed in August, had been quoted in local media as saying he would resign if the law was passed. The Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament has yet to vote on the legislation.

Mursi said in an interview on Saturday he planned to reshuffle the cabinet.

Egyptian media had reported that Mekky would be one of the ministers replaced in the shakeup, which a presidential aide told AFP would affect up to eight ministries, including “important ones.”

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil may however turn down the resignation, as he had done in the past with other ministers.

Once a leading dissident judge under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Mekky has faced criticism from both the opposition and Mursi’s supporters.

He had threatened to resign after Mursi adopted extensive powers in November that infuriated the judiciary, but remained in his post.

Mekky’s critics had accused him of siding with the new Islamist-led authorities.

Thousands of Islamist supporters of Mursi rallied on Friday, calling for an independent judiciary by passing the new legislation and removing corrupt members of legal institutions.

Friction between the government and the judiciary has been on the rise since March when the Administrative Court ordered the cancellation of a Mursi decree calling for parliamentary elections, forcing a delay in voting due to have begun in April.

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