London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The speculation surrounding Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his widely anticipated bid for the presidency has momentarily quelled with the announcement on Wednesday that he will keep his post as defense minister.
The entire Egyptian Cabinet resigned on Monday, in a move widely seen to pave the way for a Sisi candidacy. Sisi is considered a favorite to win the forthcoming presidential election, but has not yet formally announced his candidacy. In order to run for presidency, he must vacate both his government and army posts.
“He is expected to continue in his post [as defense minister] until all the issues regarding the election laws are resolved,” an official government source said on Wednesday.
“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.
But not all are seeing the Cabinet’s resignation as a sign of solidarity with Sisi. Journalist Yasser Afifi said: “There is no relation between the resignation of the government and the presidential elections in general. We want a government that can face crises and provide security; the government has failed in all these files, therefore it resigned. That’s it.”
Sisi is widely perceived as being the most commanding figure in the army-backed administration put in place after the removal of former President Mohamed Mursi last July.
Sisi’s supporters are mainly those Egyptians who opposed Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president. To Mursi’s mainly Islamist supporters, he is viewed as the architect of a coup that led to a bloody state of crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the imprisonment of its leadership.