Reuters reports: Egypt’s government resigned 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.
After the July overthrow of elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and subsequent crackdown on Islamists and liberals with hundreds killed and thousands jailed, critics say Cairo’s military-backed authorities are turning the clock back to the era of autocrat Hosni Mubarak era, when the political elite ruled with an iron fist in alliance with top businessmen.
“(The outgoing government) made every effort to get Egypt out of the narrow tunnel in terms of security, economic pressures and political confusion,” Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a live nationwide speech.
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.
But it effectively opened the way for Sisi to run for president since he would first have to leave his post as defense minister in any case. “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. [Continue reading…]
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports: An Egyptian prosecutor on Sunday accused the ousted Islamist president of passing state secrets to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the first such explicit detail in an ongoing espionage trial.
If convicted, Mohammed Morsi could face capital punishment. He already stands accused of a string of other charges, some of which also carry the death penalty, levelled as part of a crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group after the military deposed him last summer.
At Sunday’s hearing, part of which was aired on state television, the prosecution accused Morsi and 35 other Brotherhood members of conspiring to destabilize the country and cooperating with foreign militant groups — including Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.