President retires defence minister
Aug 13 2012
Egypt's Islamist president has ordered the retirement of the defence minister and chief of staff and cancelled the military-declared constitutional amendments that granted the top generals wide powers previously reserved for the head of state.
It was not immediately clear whether president Mohammed Morsi's decision had the military's blessing, but the appointment of outgoing defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff General Sami Annan as presidential advisers suggests that the nation's top two soldiers may have agreed in advance to the decisions.
Mr Morsi also ordered the retirement of the commanders of the navy, air defence and air force and appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president. Mr Mekki is a pro-reform judge who publicly spoke against election fraud during Hosni Mubarak's 29-year rule before Mubarak was removed in last year's uprising.
Mr Tantawi was the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which took over after Mubarak was forced from power in February 2011 and Gen Annan was No 2 on the ruling council. The two men appointed to replace them were also members of the SCAF - something that could indicate either the military's agreement to the shuffle or splits at the highest level of the armed forces.
"The question is now will these decisions end that conflict and the duality of powers or will there be resistance?" said analyst Gamal Abdel-Gawad. "These are huge changes."
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