Egypt's interim prime minister announced Monday the resignation of his Cabinet, a surprise move that could be designed in part to pave the way for the nation's military chief to leave his defence minister's post to run for president.
Hazem el-Beblawi's military-backed government was sworn in on July 16, less than two weeks after Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the defence minister, ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after a year in office. Its ministers will remain in their posts in a caretaker capacity until the president picks a prime minister to form a new Cabinet.
The government's resignation, announced by el-Beblawi in a live TV broadcast, came amid a host of strikes, including one by public transport workers and garbage collectors. An acute shortage of cooking gas has also been making front page news the past few days.
Egypt's political system gives most powers to the president. The prime minister usually handles day-to-day economic management, but does not set key policies. Under deposed President Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years until his 2011 ouster, the prime minister was perceived as a scapegoat for government failings.
It was not immediately clear whether el-Beblawi will stay at the helm of a new government or will step aside for a new prime minister. Local media has repeatedly reported that he planned to reshuffle his government, but not resign.
He said the Cabinet's decision to resign was made during Monday's weekly government meeting, but he gave no details.
El-Beblawi has often been derided in the media for his perceived indecisiveness and inability to introduce effective remedies for the country's economic woes. He has also been criticized for the security forces' inability to prevent high-profile terror attacks blamed on militants sympathetic with Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.