Egypt Appoints New Prime Minister After Government Resigns

  • Oil Minister Sherif Ismail named to replace prime minister
  • Agriculture minister arrested amid corruption investigation

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi accepted the resignation of the government and asked Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail to form a new cabinet.

Ismail replaces Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and was tasked with forming a cabinet within one week, El-Sisi’s office said in an e-mailed statement Saturday. It didn’t give a reason for the resignation. He ordered them to stay in office until their replacements were named.

Mahlab held the prime minister’s office since February 2014, and stayed on after El-Sisi won the presidency in June of that year. On Monday, the country’s agriculture minister quit and was arrested amid an investigation into allegations of corruption, according to state-run Nile News.

El-Sisi’s regime is reinforcing "the rationale that the president is cleaning up the country and fighting corruption," said Ziad Akl, senior researcher at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. The cabinet change is aimed at fast-tracking "neoliberal reforms in the form of austerity and an emphasis on attracting private capital to boost the economy."

Ismail’s appointment comes less than two weeks after Italy’s Eni SpA announced the biggest natural gas field discovery in Mediterranean waters, a find that may end fuel shortages in Egypt, the most populous Arab country, and meet its needs for more than a decade.

Parliamentary elections are set to start Oct. 17 and Egypt plans to have seated representatives before year’s end, the country’s elections committee said last month.

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