CAIRO — Egypt's prime minister surprised members of his Cabinet on Monday by abruptly announcing the resignation of the military-backed government, which had struggled to manage the country over seven months of political unrest and growing criticism of its performance.
The prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, who was appointed in July soon after the military ousted the country's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, did not give any reasons for the decision. There was speculation that it was somehow intended to clear the way for Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the defense minister and the dominant figure in the government, to announce his candidacy in the coming presidential election.
It was not clear who would replace the Cabinet ministers, and it remained possible that several would be reappointed to their jobs. State news media reported that they would continue to oversee their ministries until a new government was seated.
Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor at Cairo University, said a Cabinet reshuffle had been inevitable for some time, because of vacancies or anticipated resignations, but the dissolution of the entire government was a surprise.
It was possible that the prime minister simply became fed up with strikes and protests and decided to resign on his own, he said. The second possibility was that he had been removed by his superiors, including el-Sissi, in the hope that it might help "calm things down for the presidential elections," which are expected soon, though no date is set.