Mubarak-appointed Prime Minister Shafiq quits on demand of protesters; military appoints anti-Mubarak activist Essam Sharaf
Special to USAfricaonline.com
By Mona Salem Cairo (AFP) – Egypt’s military rulers have accepted the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, seen by protesters as a symbol of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the army said on Thursday.
He will be replaced by Essam Sharaf, a former transport minister who took part in the mass rallies in Cairo’s Tahrir Square which led to strongman Mubarak’s resignation on February 11 after three decades in power.
Shafiq was appointed by Mubarak in the dying days of his rule, in a failed bid to quell the protests. The military council has been running Egypt since Mubarak stood down.”The Supreme Council of Military Forces announces that it has accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq,” the statement said, without elaborating on the reasons for the move.Since the fall of Mubarak, protesters have continued to call for a replacement of the current government, which includes several ministers from the toppled regime.
The council has previously ordered the government to run the country’s affairs for six months “or until the end of parliamentary and presidential elections” and is also examining constitutional reforms.Shafiq had been expected to stay in office at least until the elections.
His successor, Sharaf, was transport minister from 2002 to 2005. He was sacked over differences with then-premier Ahmad Nazif. Nazif was himself sacked four days after the start of the anti-Mubarak protests.Sharaf is popular with the youths who launched the revolt against Mubarak, having taken part in the huge demonstrations in Tahrir Square in central Cairo.Key opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, who headed the Vienna-based UN International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 to 2009 and returned to Egypt join the protests, welcomed Shafiq’s resignation.On Twitter, he said: “We are on the right track, I express my sincere appreciation to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces who have accepted the demand of the people.”
The nationwide protests that erupted on January 25 left at least 384 dead, more than 6,000 injured and scores detained.Mubarak is currently receiving medical treatment for cancer in Saudi Arabia, a state-owned newspaper reported on Wednesday, despite the fact that the government imposed a travel ban on him and his family at the weekend.The paper reported that Mubarak left for the Saudi city of Tabuk days after he resigned.Egypt’s military council met a group including ElBaradei and Arab League chief Amr Mussa on Tuesday to discuss upcoming reforms, the state news agency MENA said.
The talks focused on constitutional reform, especially on the conditions for presidential candidates and the reduction of the number of terms to two of four years instead of an unlimited number of six-year terms, it said.Mussa said last month he would be a candidate for Egyptian president.