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Egyptian cabinet’s resignation was overdue, opposition says
February 24, 2014, 10:49 pm

Supporters of the military shout their support for El-Sissi [Xinhua]

Supporters of the military shout their endorsements for El-Sissi [Xinhua]

In a televised address to the public on Monday, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi announced his interim cabinet’s resignation after only eight months in office.

The sudden move raised eyebrows and speculation within Egypt’s political landscape that the resignation could be a way to clear any obstacles along Defense Minister Field Marshall Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi’s road to presidential elections.

“The government was ultimately going to resign,” said Ahmad El Azabaway, a professor of political science at Cairo University.

“But, resigning at this time, when El-Sissi is on his way to elections … it raises some questions about the state’s agenda for the remainder of the [political] road-map.”

In a statement, El-Beblawi said his cabinet took on the responsibility of managing the government during difficult times met with economic and security challenges.

He said it was not necessarily comprised of the most qualified ministers, but people who were willing to take on the responsibility at such a critical time.

He said the government has done well fending off the on-going terrorist threat.

“Every decision this government made came after deep study of all aspects related to the decision,” El-Beblawi said in a statement.

But El-Beblawi’s government had in recent weeks been facing severe criticism from different political factions in Egypt, especially in light of large labour strikes throughout the public sector.

“The government’s resignation was a demand that we have been asking for in our press releases. It was a weak and shaky government that did not have a real political will,” said Abdel Moneim, a member of the federation of worker’s unions.

Workers who had been excluded from a newly passed minimum wage law began protesting around mid-February. Among those were postal workers, textile workers, and public transport workers.

Local news reports said El-Beblawi was also criticized for postponing the branding of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

On August 14, security forces forcibly dispersed supporters of former President Mohamad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood as they held protests in camps in a section of Cairo near the presidential palace, and other cities in the country.

This provoked reactions from several groups in the country who supported Morsi’s regime.

The violence continued as students clashed with police in Al Azhar University in November and December; Egyptian military personnel were attacked and killed in the Sinai and northern Egypt; the minister of interior survived an assassinationattempt and police stations and military barracks came under attack.

On December 23, a car bomb destroyed part of a five-story security headquarters in Mansoura in the Daqahliya province north of Cairo.

The government launched an anti-terrorism campaign as a response to these attacks.

In his statement earlier on Monday, El-Beblawi said that Egypt has the potential for success, despite the challenges and threats it faces. He said Egyptians must rise above their personal and factional interests and consider the collective success of the country.

“Egypt needs the efforts of every one of its children and support from everyone for the coming government,” the former premier said.

The government’s resignation came less than two weeks after El-Sissi, accompanied by Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, visited Moscow on his first overseas visit since Morsi’s ouster.

The visit included a signing of a number of agreements to increase military and technical cooperation. Russian President Vladimir Putin also threw his support behind El-Sissi if he were to run for president.

The resignation also comes a month after 98.1 per cent of the more than 20 million ballots approved by referendum the constitutional amendments proposed by a committee chosen by El-Beblawi’s government.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s benchmark stock exchange – EGX30 – welcomed the cabinet resignations as its index went up 0.3 percent to what the CNBC network said was the highest level in five years.

By Ingy Hassieb for The BRICS Post in Cairo, Egypt