Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
Shafik resigns

Protesters pressed on with demands that Shafik resigne Photo by Omar Kamel

In a stunning development late Thursday, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik submitted his resignation following persistent demonstrations in Tahrir Square calling for his ouster.

A former Egyptian Air Force fighter pilot and close ally to the former government, Shafik served as minister for civil aviation before being appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak to lead the government on January 29 following a pro-democracy populist uprising.

Shafik delivered his resignation to Essam Sharaf, a former transport minister and professor of engineering.

While Sharaf has been out of the government for the past several years, he is considered a popular figure for his position on Cairo's daunting traffic problems and more recently for having sided with the pro-democracy activists in the early days of the January 25 Revolution.

After two years as transport minister, he resigned because there was "lack of political will to solve Egypt's traffic problems" Al Dostor newspaper quoted him as having said at the time.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced Thursday that it had asked Sharaf to form the new cabinet

Although Mubarak stepped down on February 11, Shafik remained in his post and was given support by the military to form a new transition government tasked with drawing up a constitutional amendments and prepare for national and parliamentary elections later on in the year.

The Tahrir Square movement of pro-democracy protesters, however, was not satisfied and continued to press demands that Shafik be sacked along with his cabinet, which they saw as remnants of the old regime. They also called for the release of political detainees and an urgent end to emergency laws in place since the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat in October 1981.