CAIRO - Egypt President Mohamed Morsi ordered on Sunday, August 12, two top generals to retire, including Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who led the nation after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, with no explanation given for the decision.
"Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi has been transferred into retirement from today," presidential spokesman said in a statement, appointing in his place as armed forces chief and defense minister General Abdellatif Sisi.
Defense Minister Tantawi, who served Mubarak as a minister for 20 years, and Chief of Staff Sami Enan were both appointed as advisers to Morsi.
President Morsi also canceled a constitutional declaration aiming to limit presidential powers which the ruling army council issued in June as the election that brought Mursi to power drew to a close.
Spokesman Yasser Ali said the changes among Egypt's top brass were effective immediately.
President Morsi, who was elected in June, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Relations between the Brotherhood and the military have been tense since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak last year.
It is not clear whether the president has the power to sack the head of the armed forces, or whether Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi will accept the move.
As head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), Field Marshal Tantawi became Egypt's interim ruler after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted following mass protests in February last year.
Under the interim constitutional declaration issued by Scaf before Morsi was sworn in, the president could not rule on matters related to the military - including appointing its leaders.
The council also dissolved parliament, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
With no immediate reaction from the military, the decision could be a result of an understanding between President Morsi and his senior generals or an unexpected maneuver that could draw a sharp response.
But a member of the military council, Gen. Mohammed el-Assar, told Reuters that the decision was, “based on consultation with the field marshal and the rest of the military council.”
On Sunday, General Assar was appointed deputy defense minister.
The surprise move indicates a substantial reordering of Egypt's political forces as it waits for a new constitution after six decades of unbroken army rule.
The changes were part of the continuing fallout from the killings of 16 Egyptian soldiers one week ago in the Sinai Peninsula, which deeply embarrassed the military and exposed shocking intelligence failures.
In the aftermath of the attack, Morsi moved swiftly to assert his newfound authority, firing his intelligence chief and the governor of Northern Sinai Governorate, and replacing several other top security officials.
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