• Egypt’s interim Cabinet resigns


    CAIRO: The Egyptian interim government presided by Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi tendered resignation after a short Cabinet meeting on Monday, state-run Nile TV reported.

    “Today, the Cabinet made a decision to tender its resignation to the president,” Beblawi said in a televised statement after the meeting.

    “The government did all it could to get Egypt out of the narrow tunnel in terms of security conditions, economic pressures and political perplexity,” he said in praise of the government’s performance over the past few months.

    Beblawi said his government completed the first phase of the nation’s political roadmap, namely the approval of a new constitution. “I think Egypt has made very important strides in building a democratic society.”

    He said his Cabinet ministers were not the best, “but they were the most honest among the few who accepted to undertake the responsibility at that time.”

    Beblawi’s Cabinet took office last July, following the deposition of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military in response to nationwide protests against his rule.

    The resignation comes amid a host of strikes in a lot of sectors, including public transport workers, textile workers, garbage collectors and health staff.

    “It is not time for factional demands and personal interests. It is time for holding the country’s best interests above everyone, ” the ex-interim prime minister said, noting that his cabinet will continue working until the resignation is accepted.

    “The government works under the people’s supervision and the people should support the government and question it reasonably and wisely,” Beblawi said.

    For his part, interim President Adli Mansour accepted the resignation in an official statement Monday evening, commending Beblawi’s government for taking responsibility “at a very sensitive and hard time.”

    “The presidency shows deep appreciation for Dr. Hazem al- Beblawi and his government members for the great efforts they exerted for the nation,” said the statement.

    Ibrahim Mahlab, the housing minister in Beblawi’s government, is likely to lead the new cabinet, according to a report on the state-run Al-Ahram news website.

    In late January, Beblawi accepted the resignation of his deputy Ziad Bahaa-Eddin, who was also the minister of international cooperation, and assigned Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi to temporarily take over his job.

    The Cabinet’s resignation has been welcomed by many political forces who believe the interim government failed to meet the people’s aspirations in the past few months.

    “I urge the president to form a crisis-management interim government of 15 active ministers after Bebalwi’s government proved insufficient at such a critical stage,” Mohamed Anwar Sadat, head of Reform and Development Party, said in a statement on Monday.

    Furthermore, the National Revolutionary Forces Coalition welcomed the government’s resignation and considered the move “very late,” calling for the formation of an unbiased and nonpartisan technocrat government that is able to fulfill its commitments and pave the political atmosphere for free and fair upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

    The National Association for Change, April 6 Youth Movement ( the National Front) and several other political and revolutionary forces showed similar sentiment toward the cabinet’s resignation.

    Beblawi’s announcement comes ahead of Egypt’s presidential election scheduled for mid-April.

    As Egypt’s new constitution stipulates that only a civilian can run for president, military chief and Defense Minister Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi, who enjoys mounting popularity, has to resign from his roles in both the military and the government if he decides to join the race.

    There was conjecture of a partial Cabinet reshuffle and Sisi’s resignation, but not an overhaul of the entire cabinet.

    Although the government’s resignation seems to be motivated by the growing public dissatisfaction with its performance, the move indirectly paves the way for Sisi’s presidential bid, according to some political experts.

    Meanwhile, Cairo Criminal Court decided Monday to suspend the trial of Morsi and some 130 other Islamists on charges of a 2011 jailbreak, citing the need to study requests to change the judge panel, official news agency MENA reported. The defense team demand the panel recuse itself, deeming it “biased.”

    Morsi is accused of escaping from Wady al-Natroun prison with the assistance of domestic and foreign forces during the 2011 uprising that toppled ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

    Some 130 affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinian Hamas movement and Lebanese Shiite military party Hezbollah, were tried with Morsi, mostly in absentia.

    Morsi also faces charges of inciting killing protesters, insulting the judiciary and espionage.

    Also on Monday, another court ordered police guards return to Egyptian university campuses after a three-year hiatus that followed the 2011 upheaval.

    Students supporting Morsi have for months been staging almost daily protests across the campuses. Al-Azhar University in eastern Cairo has been at the forefront of these protests.

    Hundreds of students have been arrested while others have been punished or dismissed from universities.

    During earlier clashes with protesters, the police refused to enter campuses for legal reasons, leading university officials to demand their return.

    According to the newly issued university law, protests and propaganda for presidential candidates will be prohibited on campuses, and deans can dismiss riotous and disruptive students without legal procedures as before. PNA


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