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 labor 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 defense 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. In July, his military-backed government was sworn in, less than two weeks after el-Sissi ousted Morsi.