Egypt’s vice president, Mahmoud Mekky, resigned on Saturday, state television reported, on the day of a referendum on a new constitution that leaves unclear whether his position would be maintained.
In a statement obtained by AFP, Mekki said he was stepping down because “political work does not suit my professional character as a judge.”
Reports also surfaced that Central Bank governor Okadah handed his resignation to President Mursi during a meeting later on Saturday.
But Reuters quoted a Cabinet spokesman denying the reports.
"It is not true," spokesman Alaa Hadidi said by telephone. "I am officially denying it."
Both the former governor and his deputy helped steer the central bank during last year’s uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak and worked to keep the Egyptian currency relatively stable despite the political turmoil.
Vice President Mekky said he had initially submitted his resignation on November 7, but delayed it until now because of a series of events, including the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and a decision by Mursi last month to bolster his own powers.
“I saw that today (Saturday) was an appropriate time to announce my resignation as vice president of the republic, and I will continue to volunteer as a soldier,” he said.
Mekky took a leading role in hosting “national unity” talks called by President Mohamed Mursi, although the main opposition politicians stayed away.
Mekki, 58, was a respected judge before Mursi named him to the post in August.
He led judicial opposition to ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, but eschewed calls to become a presidential candidate himself, saying he wished to stay politically independent.
Mekki had previously intimated to Egyptian media that he considered resigning. His brother, Ahmed Mekki, is Mursi’s justice minister. Mekki was only the second Egyptian vice president in more than 30 years.
Mubarak never filled the post during his three-decade tenure, until he named his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, to the job in February 2011, in the midst of the revolt that eventually toppled him.
Born in Alexandria in 1954, Mekki studied at the country’s police academy and is a former officer in the interior ministry, which he eventually left to join the judiciary.