Egypt PM's cabinet shift hints Sisi's presidential bid

Egypt PM's cabinet shift hints Sisi's presidential bid
Sat Feb 1, 2014 16:53:36

Egyptian military-installed Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi has stated that a cabinet reshuffle will include the defense ministry, clearly hinting that Army Chief and current Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi plans to run for presidency.

The reshuffle, however, will not be announced until the completion of a Tuesday visit by Beblawi to Saudi Arabia, a major financial backer of Egypt's Army-led interim government, the privately-owned al-Masry al-Youm newspaper reported on Saturday, citing an interview with the Egyptian prime minister.

The military strongman Sisi forced the country’s first freely-elected President Mohamed  Morsi out of office last July and is widely expected to announce his own presidential bid within days and win the election easily, the report adds.

But before Sisi can run for president he must step down from his government post as defense minister.

The cabinet reshuffle, the report adds, will include the defense ministry and the ministry for international cooperation, whose head, Ziad Bahaa al-Din, tendered his resignation last Monday.

Deposed President Mohamed Morsi, meanwhile, is facing another trial session on Saturday over violence outside the presidential palace during deadly clashes in December 2012 between his supporter and mostly pro-military opponents.

Morsi's defense lawyer says there is no proof he incited the clashes, and that most of those killed in the violence were members of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood.

His trial is seen as a test for Egypt's military-installed authorities, who have come under fire for a heavy-handed crackdown on his supporters after he was forced out by the army.

Moreover, Amnesty International has reported that since Morsi's overthrow on July 3, at least 1,400 people have been killed in clashes with security forces and his opponents.

Meanwhile, an Islamist coalition backing the ousted leader called for nationwide protests Saturday in a statement to "support the legitimately elected president."

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