Cabinet resignations deal setback for Egypt's Mursi

Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:52pm EST
 

By Tamim Elyan and Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Islamist minister quit Egypt's government on Thursday, the second cabinet resignation this week, as President Mohamed Mursi tries to shore up his authority and gather support for unpopular austerity measures.

An economic crisis and a battle over a new constitution have underlined bitter divisions between Islamist-backed Mursi and his liberal opponents and delayed a return to stability almost two years since a popular uprising.

Rivals accuse Mursi, who won Egypt's first freely contested leadership election in June, of polarizing society by foisting a divisive, Islamist-leaning constitution on the country and using the autocratic ways of his deposed predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

Deadly violence preceded a referendum on the basic law, dealing a blow to a struggling economy. Mursi's political rivals refused to accept the result - the text won about 64 percent in the vote - and they reject his call for national unity talks.

In a move that may pre-empt a planned reshuffle, parliamentary affairs minister Mohamed Mahsoub announced he was quitting because he disagreed with the slow pace of reform.

"I have reached a clear conclusion that a lot of the policies and efforts contradict my personal beliefs and I don't see them as representative of our people's aspirations," he said in his resignation letter, which has yet to be accepted by the prime minister.

Communications Minister Hany Mahmoud quit earlier this week, citing his inability to adapt to the government's "working culture".

Neither were major figures in the cabinet but their decision to criticize the substance and style of Mursi's administration suggests his decisions are unnerving not just opponents but also some allies.   Continued...

 
A general view shows the Shura Council during its meeting in Cairo December 26, 2012. The Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament (Shura Council), which now holds legislate power, is meeting for the first time on Wednesday, under the newly-approved constitution. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih