The Egyptian parliament on Sunday decided on a move that will pile pressure on the ruling generals to appoint a new Cabinet led by the Muslim Brotherhood when it voted to withdraw confidence from the military-appointed government.
If, after the no-confidence vote, the generals refuse to yield to the will of parliament a confrontation is expected that could even complicate negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, IMF, over a $3.2 billion loan prime minister Kamal Al Ganzouri's government is seeking to stave off a looming financial crisis.
MPs heaped criticism on the government during a session called to debate its handling of a probe into civil society groups, its decision to lift travel bans imposed on foreigners, for its handling of riots after a football match in Port Said on February 1 that left 73 dead and for the broader economic problems facing the country of 80 million.
Parliament Speaker Saad Al Katatni, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), asked MPs to vote on the idea of moving to withdraw confidence from the government after one MP after another called for its resignation.
In a show of hands during the televised session attended by government ministers, almost every MP voted in favour of the motion of no confidence, with parliamentary speaker Saad Al Katani, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) declaring that chamber had agreed on the motion.
Later, the government ministers did not return for a later session prompting Katani to adjourn proceedings and warning that parliament's work was being hindered.
Before adjourning parliament, Katani said: "It appears that the government wants to start a crisis with the parliament. I will adjourn the session until the government attends tomorrow. If it doesn't show up, parliament will have a bone to pick with them," he said.
According to Egypt's system of government, only the military council has the right to discharge and appoint Cabinets. But the Brotherhood, which has 43 per cent of the seats in parliament, has argued that the country is in a new era and the government should either resign or be sacked if it loses the confidence of parliament.