The surprise announcement by Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi that his seven-month-old government would resign just two months ahead of expected presidential elections seems destined to clear the way for a new cabinet led by politicians close to ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The departing cabinet was the fifth government to rule Egypt in three years. The interim president, Adly Mansour, accepted Mr Beblawi’s resignation and named as his successor the housing minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, a former member of Mr Mubarak’s National Democratic Party who has business interests in Saudi Arabia and whom Mr Mubarak appointed to the legislature’s upper house, the Shura Council, in 2010.
Under Egyptian law, when the prime minister resigns, the rest of his cabinet resigns with him. But the announcement appeared to catch some of the ministers by surprise.
A government official told McClatchy that Mr Mahlab would return most ministers to their former posts in the next days but that there might be a shift in the cabinet’s overall composition. Where Mr Beblawi’s cabinet consisted of those tied to the Mubarak regime as well as newcomers since the 2011 uprising that removed Mr Mubarak from power, Mr Mahlab is expected to stack his cabinet with remnants of the old regime.
Analysts saw Mr Mahlab’s appointment as helping the expected presidential candidacy of Egypt’s de facto ruler, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Field Marshal Sisi was once Egypt’s defence attache in Saudi Arabia, his country’s largest financial benefactor.
“The rumoured prime minister is a former land and housing minister, which means he has dealt with matters central to the military’s domestic financial land assets. He also, like Sisi, has close ties to Saudi Arabia,” said Eric Trager, an expert in Egyptian politics at