Middle East

Egypt's Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq resigns

File picture of Ahmed Shafiq on 20 January 2011
Mr Shafiq was appointed days before President Mubarak was forced out of office

Egypt's Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq has resigned, the country's ruling military council has announced in a statement.

A former transport minister, Essam Sharaf, has been asked to form a new government, the statement adds.

Mr Shafiq was appointed days before President Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office following days of anti-government protests.

Protesters saw Mr Shafiq as too closely associated to Mr Mubarak's rule, observers say.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces decided to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and appointed Essam Sharaf to form the new government," the army said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Mr Shafiq was appointed by Mr Mubarak just days before he stepped down on 11 February after several weeks of popular protests against his rule.

It had been one of the protesters' key demands that Mr Shafiq and other top ministers appointed at the end of the Mubarak rule step down.

Mr Sharaf's appointment is significant as he spoke out in support of the revolution and took part in the street protests, says the BBC's Alastair Leithead in Cairo.

It is a major step towards appeasing the demonstrators who have continued to camp out in Tahrir Square, as Mr Sharaf was a vocal opponent of the Mubarak government since his resignation as a minister five years ago, our correspondent adds.

Travel ban

The military council, which has been running the country since Mr Mubarak stepped down, has previously ordered the government to run the country's affairs for six months "or until the end of parliamentary and presidential elections" and is also examining constitutional reforms.

On Monday, Egypt issued a travel ban on ousted President Mubarak and his family.

Mr Mubarak is believed to be living in his villa in Sharm el-Sheikh, but in poor health, and has not been seen or heard of publicly since stepping down.

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