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Egyptian military government resigns ahead of presidential poll

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The military-installed government of Egyptian prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi said Monday it has resigned, ahead of a presidential poll which will likely bring army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power.

Sisi, by far the country’s most popular political figure, has not yet announced his candidacy for this spring’s presidential election, but aides say he has already decided to run and will make the announcement soon.

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The field marshal, who is the defence minister and first deputy prime minister in the outgoing cabinet, has to resign from the government and the army before he can officially announce his candidacy.

Beblawi’s government was appointed in July after Sisi ousted Islamist Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first elected and civilian president.

A limited reshuffle to allow Sisi to step aside had been planned for weeks, but the resignation of the entire cabinet appeared to come as a surprise even for some government officials.

The administration has weathered sharp criticism over its handling of security and the economy amid a spate of bombings and labour strikes, and could have presented Sisi with unwanted campaign baggage.

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“The cabinet decided in light of the current situation that the country is going through… to submit its resignation to Adly Mansour, the interim president,” it said in a statement.

Beblawi praised the government’s performance on state television.

“For the past six to seven months, the government assumed its responsibilities and duties… the government did not spare any efforts to get Egypt out of a bad phase,” Beblawi said in reference to the security and economic issues.

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“This is not the time for personal interests. The nation is above everybody.”

Beblawi said the government had also completed the first step in a road map outlined by the military-installed authorities, by holding a referendum on a new constitution in January.

Beblawi said the his government would remain in a caretaker role until the interim president signs off on the resignations, the official MENA news agency reported.

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– ‘New blood’ –

Government spokesman Hany Saleh told AFP that Monday’s decision was taken because there was a “feeling that new blood is needed”.

“Egypt is moving forward. This decision will not affect foreign relations or internal stability,” he said, adding it was still unclear which ministers would keep their posts.

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The government’s resignation came as Hamdeen Sabbahi, a prominent candidate for the election, told AFP he fears a return to autocracy in Egypt three years after its Arab Spring uprising.

While his chances of winning against Sisi are seen as slim, Sabbahi said young members of his leftist Popular Current, which he founded in 2012, encouraged him to run.

Youths who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak “feel that their revolution was being stolen… as their comrades were being jailed and some killed before their eyes,” he said in an interview.

More than seven months after Morsi’s overthrow, Egypt remains battered by protests and militant attacks that have damaged its vital tourism industry and scared off investors.

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Beblawi’s government has announced two stimulus packages funded by Arab Gulf states, but still faces accusations of incompetence, even by supporters of Sisi who considered the government a liability.

The extension of the crackdown on Morsi’s supporters to more secular activists has also alienated some former government supporters who favoured Morsi’s overthrow.

Some leading secular activists who spearheaded the overthrow of Mubarak and then called for Morsi’s ouster have since been jailed for unauthorised demonstrations.

But for many Egyptians who want Sisi for president, the priority is the stability they believe the field marshal can restore.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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WATCH: CNN’s Don Lemon bursts out laughing over Trump’s new wall in Colorado

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CNN's Don Lemon typically deals with difficult and intense topics at the top of his weekly show. Wednesday night, however, after a serious opener about Syria and ISIS, Lemon broke into hysterics over President Donald Trump's flub saying he would build a border wall on Colorado's border.

"You know why we're going to win New Mexico? Because they want safety on our border. And they didn't have it," said Trump. "And we're building a wall on the border of New Mexico. And we're building a wall in Colorado. We're building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works — you can't get over, you can't get under. And we're building a wall in Texas. And we're not building a wall in Kansas, but they get the benefit of the walls that we just mentioned. And Louisiana's incredible."

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Rachel Maddow explains how Mike Pence got thrown into the impeachment scandal by Trump’s lawyers

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MSNBC host Rachel Maddow noted that Vice President Mike Pence got thrown into the impeachment scandal by President Donald Trump's own lawyers.

In a bizarre comment in court a few weeks ago, has been revealed with the release of documents. Unfortunately for Pence, it happened again. Trump's lawyers debated with judges and opposing counsel whether Trump could, in fact, shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and be prosecuted. The president's lawyers argued that not only could they not prosecute him, but they also couldn't stop him either.

But it was a key part of their argument that indicated Pence wasn't all that important.

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Trump refusing to pay for New Mexico security and barricades — while trying to change the state from blue to red

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President Donald Trump thinks he will win New Mexico. He's repeated the factoid multiple times, including to a group of oil and gas workers and executives Wednesday at a conference in Pittsburgh, PA. But he also made two significant mistakes to put that support in jeopardy.

First, the president indicated he was building his "wall" on the border of Colorado, which is north of New Mexico. It would mean that New Mexico was now part of Mexico.

Second, it was reported by the Albuquerque Journal that their city is yet another one Trump's campaign is refusing to pay for security costs.

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