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Egyptian prime minister announces government's resignation

Egypt’s prime minister has announced that he and his entire military-backed government are stepping down. No clear reason was given for the decision.

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi surprised the country with Monday's announcement, which he made in a statement broadcast live on national television.

"Today the cabinet took a decision to offer its resignation to the president of the republic," he said.

The prime minister gave no reason for the decision, but the resignations come amid a number of work stoppages, including one by public transport workers and garbage collectors.

It is also seen as helping pave the way for the army chief and defense minister, Field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sissi to run for

president in an election expected to be held in April.

In order to be eligible to become a candidate, the military officer needed to leave the cabinet. Analysts have speculated that the entire government stepped down, as he didn't want to appear to be acting alone.

In his speech, the prime minister praised his government's record during a turbulent several months in the country.

"Egypt has made a major stride on its way to building an open democratic society," Beblawi said. "The greatest responsibility is on the people. The government works under the supervision of the people."

Beblawi and his government were appointed following the military's ouster of Islamist former President Mohamed Morsi last July, amid mass protests against his rule.

Shortly after Beblawi announced the mass resignations, the state-run al-Ahram news website reported that interim President Adly Mansour had asked him to remain in the post on a caretaker basis until a new premier has been appointed.

pfd/hc (AP, Reuters)

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