CAIRO: Egypt's Prime Minister Sharif Ismail left the country Thursday for a three-week course of medical treatment and surgery in Germany amid speculation he would be permanently replaced in a cabinet shuffle.
State television reported that during his absence Housing Minister Mostafa Madboly would stand in as premier on a temporary basis.
The cabinet had said on Wednesday evening that Ismail would head to Germany for "three weeks" to get medical treatment.
Ismail departed on Thursday, an AFP correspondent at Cairo airport said.
Egyptian media reported Ismail's resignation last month, which the cabinet denied, but that has not quelled widespread speculation that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will replace him ahead of presidential elections in the spring of 2018.
Ismail has overseen tough economic reforms that have ratcheted inflation to record highs in the past year.