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Egypt’s Sisi to Stay on As Defense Minister: Official

File photo of Egypt's Housing Minister Mahlab talking during an interview with the media in Cairo

Cairo – Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will keep his post as defense minister in a new government, an official source said on Wednesday, quashing speculation he was about to announce a widely expected bid for the presidency. Sisi is tipped to win the upcoming presidential election but has yet to announce his candidacy. He must vacate the post of defense minister in order to run. The source said he would likely keep that job until an election law is finalized.

“He is expected to continue in his post until all the issues regarding the election laws are resolved,” the source said. Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi’s government resigned on Monday in a surprise move that has not been clearly explained. Many of Beblawi’s ministers were reappointed on Wednesday by Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Mahlab, the outgoing housing minister who was asked on Tuesday to form the new cabinet.

They included Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, a leading figure in state efforts to fight militant attacks that have soared since the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last July following mass protests against his rule. Ibrahim survived an assassination attempt last September.

Sisi, 59, is widely seen as the most powerful figure in the army-backed administration installed after Mursi’s removal. He enjoys strong support among Egyptians who were glad to see the overthrow of Mursi, who was freely elected president in 2012. But to Mursi’s Islamist supporters, he is the mastermind of a coup that led to a bloody state crackdown.

Mahlab said on Tuesday that fighting militant attacks would be a priority for his government. Shootings and bombings, mostly targeting the security forces, have become commonplace since Mursi’s removal. (Reuters)

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