Egypt's new government lineup will decide Sisi's presidential bid: Observers

Monday, February 24, 2014

By Hazem Badr

CAIRO - Although outgoing Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi linked his cabinet's Monday resignation to a recent wave of labor unrest, some observers believe the move has more to do with an anticipated presidential bid by army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

"The new cabinet lineup will reveal whether al-Sisi will run for president or not," political analyst Saed Sadek told Anadolu Agency.

"If al-Sisi remains defense minister, it means he won't run for president in the next presidential election," Sadek said.

Speculation has been rife as to whether al-Sisi would run in upcoming polls, dates for which have yet to be set.

Pressure has mounted for al-Sisi, who is currently riding a wave of popularity, to make a bid for the presidency. He has yet to announce, however, whether or not he would vie for Egypt's top office.

Al-Beblawi, whose government was sworn in last July, submitted his government's resignation earlier Monday. He linked the move to rampant labor unrest, adding that Egypt continued to face "major challenges."

Mukhtar Ghobashi, director of the Arab Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a local think tank, doubts the new cabinet will include al-Sisi as defense minister. He believes the army chief has already decided to make a run for the presidency.

A recent amendment to Egypt's transitional roadmap, which was imposed by the army following the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi, calls for holding presidential elections before parliamentary polls.

Prominent political analyst Wahid Abdel-Meguid, for his part, agrees that al-Sisi has already decided to run for president. Abdel-Meguid expects the top general to formally announce his presidential candidacy imminently.

According to some reports, the defense minister has already begun preparing his presidential election campaign.

On Sunday, television presenter Ibrahim Eissa said al-Sisi had already met with several public figures and tasked them with preparing the ground for his presidential bid.

According to Eissa, these figures include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, veteran journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, prominent filmmaker Khaled Youssef, and presidential aide Mustafa Hegazi.

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