CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian army chief
Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will keep his post as defense
minister in a new government, an official source said on Wednesday,
quashing speculation he was about to announce a widely expected bid for
Sisi is tipped to win the upcoming presidential election but has
yet to announce his candidacy. He must vacate the post of defense
minister in order to run. The source said he would likely keep that
job until an election law is finalized.
"He is expected to continue in his post until all the issues
regarding the election laws are resolved," the source said.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi's government resigned on Monday in a
surprise move that has not been clearly explained. Many of Beblawi's
ministers were reappointed on Wednesday by Prime Minister-designate
Ibrahim Mahlab, the outgoing housing minister who was asked on
Tuesday to form the new cabinet.
They included Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, a leading figure in
state efforts to fight militant attacks that have soared since the
army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last July following
mass protests against his rule.
Ibrahim survived an assassination attempt last September.
Sisi, 59, is widely seen as the most powerful figure in the
army-backed administration installed after Mursi's removal.
He enjoys strong support among Egyptians who were glad to see the
overthrow of Mursi, who was freely elected president in 2012. But to
Mursi's Islamist supporters, he is the mastermind of a coup that led
to a bloody state crackdown.
Mahlab said on Tuesday that fighting militant attacks would be a
priority for his government. Shootings and bombings, mostly
targeting the security forces, have become commonplace since Mursi's
Pointing to the wider risks, an Egyptian court sentenced 26 people
to death on Wednesday for plotting attacks on ships passing through
the Suez Canal - a vital artery of world shipping. The defendants
were tried in absentia.