The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Egypt's Cabinet resigns in surprise move; may pave way for military chief's presidential run

  • Print

CAIRO - Egypt's interim Cabinet resigned Monday in a surprise move that could pave the way for the nation's military chief to announce his widely anticipated plans to run for president in the spring.

The resignation, announced by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi in a televised statement, came amid a wave of labour strikes over the government's failure to fix the economy and rising popular anger nearly a year after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the military.

The Cabinet will remain in office in a caretaking capacity until a new one is formed. Its resignation fueled speculation that the military chief, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, will soon announce a presidential bid.

The 59-year-old career infantry officer, who has been defence minister since Morsi named him to the Cabinet post in August 2012, has already secured the support of Egypt's top military body, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to seek the presidency.

Military and security officials said the British- and U.S.-trained el-Sissi has been working with a team of advisers on a program of action that he intends to announce when he declares his candidacy. Making the announcement against a backdrop of rising popular anger and harsh media criticism of el-Beblawi would not have looked good for el-Sissi.

El-Beblawi did not say why his Cabinet was resigning. His military-backed government was sworn in in July, less than two weeks after el-Sissi ousted Morsi.

El-Sissi has been increasingly acting in a presidential fashion.

He paid a highly publicized visit to Russia earlier this month, when he secured the Kremlin's blessing for his likely presidential bid and negotiated a large arms deal. Last week, his wife made her first public appearance since he became defence minister. Intisar el-Sissi was seated next to him during a ceremony to honour senior officers.

Thousands of el-Sissi posters are plastered on walls and hoisted on lampposts across much of the country. Songs praising him are played on radio and blare from coffee shops. He has often been likened to a lion and Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser and portrayed as a saviour who will bring strength and prosperity to Egypt.

A new constitution adopted in a referendum last month gives the military the exclusive right to pick the defence minister for the next two, four-year presidential terms. In Egypt, the defence minister is routinely the armed forces' commander in chief.

So if el-Sissi, as expected, is left out of the next Cabinet lineup, that will most likely mean that his announcement on a presidential bid is imminent. His chief of staff, Gen. Sobhi Sedki, is expected to succeed him.

El-Beblawi's government is likely to be remembered for authorizing security forces in August to storm pro-Morsi sit-in protests in Cairo — a crackdown that killed hundreds — and for labeling the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

El-Beblawi has been heavily criticized for failing to prevent high-profile terror attacks blamed on pro-Morsi militants. In the last seven months, several security headquarters have been bombed and dozens of policemen, some in key intelligence jobs, gunned down in the streets. Authorities daily announce the seizures of extensive caches of arms and explosives.

The latest wave of labour unrest to hit Egypt included strikes by public transport workers and garbage collectors and a partial stoppage by doctors. An acute shortage of cooking gas cylinders has also fed popular frustration. This week also saw the end of a crippling, 11-day strike by thousands of textile workers in the industrial city of Mahalla in the Nile Delta.

"The Cabinet has, in the last six or seven months, responsibly and dutifully shouldered a very difficult and delicate burden, and I believe that, in most cases, we have achieved good results," the outgoing prime minister said.

"But like any endeavour, it cannot all be success but rather within the boundaries of what is humanly possible."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

RMTC preview of Good People

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada goose protects her nest full of eggs Monday on campus at the University of Manitoba- Standup photo- Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Have you fallen victim to misleading cable, Internet or cellphone promotions?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google