- (Photo: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Egypt's interim government resigned Monday, apparently to allow army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is also serving as the defense minister, to run for president. Meanwhile, ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was accused of spying for Iran.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who was tasked by interim President Adly Mansour with running the government's affairs until the election due in April, declared the government's resignation in a speech that was telecast live Monday.
Beblawi said his government "made every effort to get Egypt out of the narrow tunnel in terms of security, economic pressures and political confusion."
The government's resignation was needed ahead of al-Sisi's announcement that he will run for president, an official source told Reuters. The cabinet resigned en masse to show that al-Sisi is not acting alone, the source explained.
The decision was reportedly made after a 15-minute meeting of the cabinet that was also attended by al-Sisi.
Morsi of the Islamist group, who was elected president about a year after the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, was removed by al-Sisi last July after massive protests against his rule.
Beblawi is likely to be replaced by Housing Minister Ibrahim Mihlib, according to the Al-Ahram newspaper.
Al-Sisi is expected to announce his resignation from both posts soon, as the election is to be held by mid-April as per the country's new constitution.
Meanwhile, prosecutors on Sunday accused Morsi, who is facing four separate trials, and 35 others, including leaders of the Brotherhood, of conspiring with Hamas and Iran to destabilize Egypt, a strategic U.S. ally, according to Agence France Presse.
All the accused delivered "to a foreign country ... national defense secrets" and provided "the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with security reports in order to destabilize the security and stability of the country," the prosecutor said in a court statement Sunday. Morsi and the others carried out espionage activities on behalf of the "international Muslim Brotherhood organization and Hamas with an aim to perpetrate terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state" from 2005 to August 2013.
Morsi, whose group has been declared a terrorist organization, and the other accused claimed that prosecutions were politically motivated. At the hearing on Sunday, Morsi was held separately in a soundproof glass cage to prevent him from disrupting proceedings.
The trial was adjourned to Wednesday.