Egypt's outgoing housing minister Ibrahim Mahlab told state-run Al-Ahram newspaper on Tuesday that he had been asked to form a new government, Al-Ahram reported on its website.

The choice of defense minister may hold clues as to when army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will announce a widely expected bid for the presidency. Sisi must vacate the post of defense minister, which he held in the outgoing cabinet, in order to run in the vote that could be held as soon as April.

Mahlab is a civil engineer who was formerly head of one of Egypt's biggest construction firms. He was also an official in deposed President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

Speaking to Al-Ahram after meeting interim President Adly Mansour, Mahlab said he would immediately begin consultations on appointing a new cabinet.


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