government resigns, paving way for Sisi to seek presidency
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[February 24, 2014]
By Yasmine Saleh and Asma Alsharif
CAIRO (Reuters) — Egypt's government has
resigned, the prime minister said on Monday, paving the way for army
chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for
president of a strategic U.S. ally gripped by political strife.
Beblawi, who was tasked by interim President Adly Mansour with
running the government's affairs until the election, did not give a
clear reason for the decision.
For Sisi to run for president he would first need to leave his post
as defense minister. "This (government resignation) was done as a
step that was needed ahead of Sisi's announcement that he will run
for president," an Egyptian official said.
He told Reuters that the cabinet had resigned en masse as Sisi did
not want to appear to be acting alone.
The top military commander has unveiled a political roadmap meant to
lead to elections after toppling Islamist President Mohamed Mursi of
the Muslim Brotherhood in July following mass protests against his
The vote is expected within months in Egypt, which has great
geo-strategic importance due to its peace treaty with Israel and
control over the Suez Canal, a vital global shipping lane that is
the shortest between Asia and Europe.
Egypt's stock market rose 0.26 percent after news of the
government's departure to 8029.37 points, reversing losses from
earlier in the day.
Mursi's removal triggered the bloodiest political crisis in Egypt's
modern history, with security forces killing hundreds of Brotherhood
supporters, jailing thousands and putting top leaders on trial.
The Muslim Brotherhood accused Sisi of plotting a coup, and human
rights groups say that abuses under his watch are growing by the
day, allegations the army-backed government denies.
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The government has also cracked down on some secular activists who
were instrumental in unrest that overthrew autocrat Hosni Mubarak in
2011 and who supported Mursi's removal. They are languishing in
prisons and face trial.
Compounding the instability in the Arab world's largest country,
Islamist militants based in the widely lawless Sinai Peninsula have
intensified attacks on police and soldiers, killing hundreds.
The Sinai-based group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility
for a suicide bombing which killed two South Koreans last week,
inflicting yet more harm on a tourism industry already gutted by
political turmoil and protests.
Ansar also said that it was behind high-profile assassinations of
top Interior Ministry officials.
(Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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