Mursi retires army chief Tantawi

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Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi (c) gestures, while Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (l) and an army general look on at a checkpoint in al-Arish (Photo: Reuters – Egyptian Presidency)

Published Sunday, August 12, 2012

Egypt's president on Sunday ordered the defense minister and chief of staff to retire and canceled the military-declared constitutional amendments that gave top generals wide powers.

President Mohammed Mursi also appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president.

The decisions announced on Sunday are effective immediately.

Spokesman Yasser Ali said in a news conference aired on state TV that Mursi had appointed a new defense minister, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

He replaces Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who headed the military council that ruled Egypt for 17 months after Hosni Mubarak's ouster in a popular uprising in February 2011.

Tantawi was defense minister for nearly two decades under Mubarak but was much despised in Egypt.

The military council's second in command, Chief of Staff Sami Annan, was also ordered to retire.

A general told Reuters that the decisions had been made in consultation with Tantawi.

"The decision was based on consultation with the field marshal and the rest of the military council," General Mohamed el-Assar told Reuters.

Mursi also scrapped an interim constitutional declaration issued before he was sworn in that ruled the president could not rule on matters related to the military - including appointing its leaders.

In sweeping changes, he also ordered the retirement of the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force.

The retired navy commander, Lt. Gen. Mohan Mameesh, was named as chairman of the Suez Canal, the strategic waterway linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and a major source of revenues for the country.

The move will be seen as a major moment in the battle for power between the Muslim Brotherhood from which Mursi came and the army, which remains among the most well-organized bodies in the country.

(Al-Akhbar, AP)


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