What Egypt just went through could be every neighbour’s envy. In a blink of an eye, the entire cabinet led by Hazem el-Beblawi as prime minister resigned, with some members of the cabinet caught unawares by the move. Before the world could start debating on the strangeness of this political development, Egypt had already had a replacement prime minister in Ibrahim Mahlab, housing minister in the el-Beblawi cabinet. The fact that not even a murmur of protest has risen in Egypt at the appointment of a person once known to be an acolyte of the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, should be an indication of the profound change the country has undergone since the 2011 revolution. With the Opposition forced underground, nothing stands in the way of the army seizing power again. There is thus little scorn towards a Mubarak-era politician being appointed to one of the highest offices of the State. With victory within smelling distance, one might still wonder why the cabinet, appointed by the president who is himself a military-appointee, should have gone through the motion of changing faces in the government. One probable reason could be that the mass resignation helped ease out Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi from his position as defence minister. The new Constitution allows only civilians to run for the post of president. The former military chief, who is yet to announce his candidacy for the highest office, could not have resigned from his post without drawing attention to his future plans. It is strange that General el-Sissi and his cohorts in the army and the all-powerful supreme council of the armed forces should try to be secretive about an impending development that most of the country knows about. Obviously, the army believes, as does its mascot, that appearances have to be kept up still.
So, it was also important that the army, seen by many to have rescued the country from the clutches of Islamist radicalism, did not appear to have failed in its duty as protector of the people. The el-Beblawi government was going nowhere in either bettering the economy or securing the country from militancy. A change was necessary to bolster public confidence and create an air of optimism before General el-Sissi could go to the people to seek a mandate. Mr Mahlab’s call is to create that atmosphere. For the rest, Egypt obviously has to look up to General el-Sissi as president.