CAIRO: Egypt’s military-installed government resigned en masse on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) in a surprise move ahead of a presidential poll likely to bring defense minister and army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power.
A limited reshuffle to allow Sisi to step down as defense minister and enter elections had been expected, but the across-the-board resignations led by the increasingly unpopular Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi surprised even some in the cabinet.
Appointed in July after the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, Beblawi’s government came under pressure to step aside amid a worsening economy and a spate of militant attacks and labor strikes.
The resignations might lead to a new cabinet without the baggage of Beblawi’s government ahead of Sisi’s expected run in the presidential election this spring.
Sisi, who emerged as the country’s most popular political figure after ending Morsi’s divisive one-year rule, has not yet announced his candidacy, but aides say he has already decided to run and will make the announcement soon.
The field marshal, who is the defense minister and first deputy prime minister in the outgoing cabinet, has to resign from the government and the army before he can officially announce his candidacy.
Beblawi defended the govern–ment’s performance in an address announcing the resignations.
“The government assumed its responsibilities and duties . . . the government did not spare any efforts to get Egypt out of a bad phase,” Beblawi said.
“This is not the time for personal interests. The nation is above everybody.”
The cabinet said in a statement it resigned “in light of the current situation that the country is going through.”
The mass resignations could have been triggered by the pressure on Beblawi himself to step down.