Egypt’s govt resigns, sparking controversy

The government reportedly resigned after a decision was made in a 15-minute cabinet meeting

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Egypt’s government resigned on Monday paving the way for army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to announce his presidency bid and sparking controversy over the surprise move.

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Interim President Adly Mansour asked outgoing Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi to run the government’s affairs until a new prime minister is named, the state-run Al Ahram news website reported.

“Today the cabinet took a decision to offer its resignation to the president of the republic,” Beblawi said in a televised statement, without giving a clear reason for the decision.

“For the past six to seven months, the government assumed its responsibilities and duties... the government did not spare any efforts to get Egypt out of a bad phase,” Beblawi said in reference to security and economic issues.

“This is not the time for personal interests. The nation is above everybody.”

Beblawi was appointed after the army toppled former President Mohammad Mursi last July following mass protests against his rule.
Citing an unnamed source, state-run Al Ahram newspaper said on its website the decision was made after a 15-minute meeting of the cabinet.

Sisi, who is expected to run for president, was part of the cabinet, serving as defense minister. The government resigning has effectively opened the way for Sisi to run for president since he would first have to leave his post as defense minister in any case.

“This (government resignation) was done as a step that was needed ahead of Sisi’s announcement that he will run for president,” an Egyptian official told Reuters.

The official said that the cabinet had resigned en masse as Sisi did not want to appear to be acting alone.

Sisi has unveiled a political roadmap meant to lead to elections after toppling Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood following mass unrest against his increasingly arbitrary rule.

The military chief has already secured the support of Egypt’s top military body, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to launch a presidential bid.

Already, the career infantry officer trained in Britain and the United States has been acting in a somewhat presidential manner. He paid a highly publicized visit to Russia earlier this month, when he secured the Kremlin’s goodwill, its blessing for his likely presidential bid and negotiated a large arms deal.

His wife made her first public appearance since Sis’s ouster of Mursi last week, seated next to him in a military ceremony.

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The resignation followed the adoption last month of a new constitution drafted by a mostly liberal and secular panel and two months ahead of a presidential election, now expected to be held in April.

However, others suggested that decision was meant to infuse “new blood.”

Government spokesman Hany Saleh told Agence France-Presse that Monday’s decision was taken because there was a “feeling that new blood is needed.”

“Egypt is moving forward. This decision will not affect foreign relations or internal stability,” he said, adding it was still unclear which ministers from the outgoing cabinet would keep their posts.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Mahleb, minister of housing in Beblawi’s government, is expected to be commissioned to form the new cabinet, according to sources cited by Ahram Online.

In an interview with Al Arabiya News in January, Beblawi was asked whether Egypt was returning to military rule following the army-backed ouster of Mursi last year.

“This is something people have in their minds, in their imagination. I’ve been in the cabinet for about six months, I haven’t felt any time that I am run by the military people,” he said.

“I told you my conviction and I promised prior to my assuming a public office, that I think Egypt after January 2011 is immune to military dictatorship and military rule. On the contrary, people are much more in command than ever before.”

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