Egypt’s Military-Backed Government Resigns

Prime minister announces his government has quit, clearing the way for military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to run for president

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Mikhail Metzel / Ria Novosti / Pool / EPA

From right: Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on Feb. 13, 2014.

Egypt’s military-backed government resigned on Monday, a move likely designed to pave the way for the country’s military chief to declare his candidacy for president. 

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi’s cabinet made the decision to quit during a 15-minute cabinet meeting, according to the state-run Al Ahram newspaper. El-Beblawi later announced the resignation in a live television broadcast, ending the government that has been in place since July’s military-backed ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, the AP reports.

The resignation likely clears the way for Egypt’s military chief, Field Marshall Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, to declare his candidacy to become the country’s president. The architect of Morsi’s military removal, al-Sisi has been seen as the most likely candidate since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces “unanimously delegated” him to stand for the presidency in the next election. Since then, the army chief has visited Moscow, where he received a endorsement from Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

While al-Sisi has the backing of key foreign leaders, domestic turmoil will likely dominate much of the discussion of the upcoming elections. El-Beblawi’s cabinet resignation comes in the middle of strikes by public transport workers and garbage collectors, and the AP reports that a massive shortage of cooking gas has made the front pages of the country’s newspapers.

In January, about 36 percent of the electorate cast ballots in a referendum on a new constitution, with more than 98 percent voting in favor. Egypt will hold a presidential election by mid-April, which could allow al-Sisi time to consolidate power before the parliamentary elections.