Egypt´s Morsi ´empowered with army shakeup´ (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Mona Salem 08/13/12)
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Egypt´s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi has emerged empowered after
a "revolutionary" decision to dismiss his powerful defence minister
and curb the military´s sweeping powers, media said Monday.
In a surprise move, Morsi on Sunday retired Defence Minister File
Marshal Tantawi, 76, and armed forces chief of staff Sami Anan and
scrapped a constitutional document that gave the military legislative
and other powers.
The Egyptian press on Monday described Morsi´s move
as "revolutionary", with some saying it was aimed at curbing the
powers of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
The state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper said the dismissal of Tantawi, who
headed the SCAF for more than a year after massive streets protests
forced Mubarak to step down, was a "revolutionary decision."
"The Brothers officially in power," declared the independent Al-Watan
daily, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group which
backs Morsi and through whose ranks he rose before his election
Thousands of Islamist supporters on Sunday flooded Cairo´s Tahrir
Square -- cradle of the revolution that toppled former president
Hosni Mubarak last year -- to celebrate.
"The people support the president´s decision," the crowd chanted.
Others mocked Tantawi´s departure, presented officially as a
"Marshal, tell the truth, did Morsi fire you?" they said.
Morsi in a late night speech on Sunday denied trying to marginalise
the army, saying he was acting in the interests of the country.
"I never intended, through my decisions, to marginalise or be unjust
toward anyone, but rather to act so that we advance toward a better
future, with a new generation, long-awaited new blood," Morsi said.
"I did not intend to embarrass institutions," he added, saying he
had "the interest of the country in mind."
Morsi also amended the interim constitution to deny the military any
role in public policy-making, the budget and legislation, and the
right to pick a constituent assembly drafting a permanent
constitution for post-Mubarak Egypt.
"The president has decided to annul the constitutional declaration
adopted on June 17" by the SCAF, headed by Tantawi, his spokesman
Youssef Ali said.
Mourad Ali, a senior official with the Brotherhood´s Freedom and
Justice Party, which fielded Morsi in the May-June presidential
polls, praised the president.
"Given the circumstances, this is the right time to make changes in
the military institution," the Islamist official said. "He is a
strong president, and he is exercising his authority."
Sunday´s announcements marked a new twist in uneasy ties between
Morsi and the army, testing the balance of power between the first
civilian president in Egypt´s history and a military that had moved
to limit his power.
Tantawi, who had served as Mubarak´s defence minister for two
decades, was replaced by replaced by Abdel Fattah al-Sissi a member
of the SCAF.
The veteran officer as well as chief of staff Anan were awarded the
Greatest Nile Collar, Egypt´s most prestigious award, and both were
retained as presidential advisors.
But Morsi also shuffled members of the SCAF into other strategic
public sector jobs, like Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, the head of the
navy, who was tasked with overseeing the key revenue earner Suez
Morsi, an Islamist who rose through the ranks of the Muslim
Brotherhood before his election triumph, also decided to appoint a
He appointed judge Mahmud Mekki as his deputy, MENA reported, making
him only the second vice president to be named in Egypt in 30 years.
Sunday´s shakeup is the latest in a series of moves by Morsi a week
after a deadly attack on the Egyptian military in the Sinai prompted
an unprecedented military campaign in the lawless peninsula.
Last week Morsi replaced his spy chief and dismissed top security and
political officials in the Sinai as well.
In Israel, a government official expressed "great concern" over
developments in Egypt while media suggested the removal of figures
such as Tantawi would force Israel to seek new interlocutors in Egypt.
Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, and although ties
were frosty, security cooperation between the two countries´ armies
"The change of security and military leadership in Egypt will require
Israel to open channels of dialogue with the new figures, not all of
whom are familiar faces," an analysis in Maariv newspaper said.
"It is too early to say what will happen because everything is
evolving in Egypt, but we are following what is happening there with
great concern," the Israeli official told AFP.
In Cairo the independent daily Al-Shorouk expressed concern over the
action, saying it meant that Morsi was accumulating "much bigger
prerogatives than those of Mubarak." (Copyright © 2012 Agence France
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