Egypt's outgoing housing minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, is to become the prime minister and form a new government tasked with organising new presidential elections in the next few months.

Mahlab was speaking after meeting the interim president, Adly Mansour, who officially asked him to form the new cabinet.

Who is Ibrahim Mahlab?

A construction magnate and former chief executive of the Arab Contractors Company.

The interim government's housing minister.

Part of Hosni Mubarak's government.
A member of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

At a news conference, Mahlab said he would begin consultations on appointing a new cabinet in the next few days. He vowed to "crush terrorism", a term the interim, military-backed government has used against the Muslim Brotherhood and armed groups in the Sinai region.

"We will work together to restore security and safety to Egypt and crush terrorism in all corners of the country," he said.

The choice of defence minister may hold clues as to when the army chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, will announce a widely expected bid for the presidency.

Sisi must leave his position of defence minister, which he held in the outgoing cabinet, in order to run in the vote that could be held as soon as April.

The government of the interim prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, resigned on Monday. Beblawi was appointed in July after the removal by the military of the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.

During Beblawi's tenure, the state cracked down hard on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. Rights groups criticised his
government for crushing dissent through other moves, including a law imposing tough penalties on people who protest illegally.

Mahlab, a former official in the government of the deposed president Hosni Mubarak, is a civil engineer who formerly served as chairman and chief executive of the Arab Contractors Company, a large Egyptian civil engineering firm.

A profile distributed by the housing ministry said Mahlab is married and speaks English and French.

Source: Reuters