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Oil Minister to Form New Egyptian Cabinet

FILE - Egypt's Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail talks during an interview with Reuters on investments undertaken by his country, at his office in Cairo, Sept. 22, 2014.

Egypt's prime minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, and his Cabinet resigned Saturday, in the face of intense media criticism and a widening corruption investigation that saw the agriculture minister arrested on corruption charges just days ago.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi asked outgoing Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail to head a new government within a week, after accepting Mahlab's resignation.

"The prime minister handed the government's resignation to the president who accepted it," a statement from the president's office said, adding that Mahlab and his cabinet ministers would continue to serve until a new body is appointed.

Key portfolio holders - the defense, interior and foreign ministers - are expected to remain in the new government, which will be responsible for overseeing long-delayed parliamentary elections that take place in phases from October 17 to December 2.

The polls, originally scheduled for early 2015, were postponed amid charges from rights groups of repressive measures during a crackdown on the Islamist opposition.

The country's private media, while praising el-Sissi, have routinely slammed the government in recent weeks, accusing ministers of incompetence and of being out of touch with Egyptians suffering from years of unrest since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Agriculture Minister Salah el-Din Helal and others are under investigation for charges they received over $1 million in bribes.

The Egyptian government has long been plagued by corruption allegations, particularly regarding land deals. El-Sissi routinely insists that he is tackling the corruption problem.