Major jolt to Egypt's political echelons: A government spokesman said Sunday that Egypt's president
has ordered the defense minister and chief of staff to retire and has canceled the military-declared constitutional amendments that gave top generals wide powers.
President Mohammed Morsi
also issued a new constitutional declaration that grants him many presidential powers that were restricted by the army in June, al-Ahram news site reported.
The powers Morsi enjoys as per this declaration include full executive and legislative authority, as well as the power to set all public policies in Egypt and sign international treaties. The declaration also gives Morsi the right to form a new Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new Egyptian constitution should any future developments prevent the current assembly from carrying out its responsibilities.
As part of his reshuffling of the top military and political ranks, Morsi ordered the retirement of Egyptian Air Defense Commander Lt. General Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen, and Chief of the Navy, Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish. In addition, Morsi appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president.
The decisions announced Sunday are effective immediately. Spokesman Yasser Ali said in a news conference aired on state TV that Morsi appointed a new defense minister, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Morsi with Tantawi (Photo: EPA)
He will replace Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi,
who headed the military council that ruled Egypt for 17 months after Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 2011. Tantawi was defense minister for nearly two decades under Mubarak.
The military council's No. 2, Chief of Staff Sami Annan, was also ordered to retire.
The surprise move comes less than a week after Morsi appointed a new national intelligence chief and
dismissed the governor of the increasingly lawless north Sinai region after gunmen killed 16 border guards there.
Morsi also fired the commander of the presidential guards and named new chiefs for security in Cairo and the police's large central security, a large paramilitary force often deployed to deal with riots.
The intelligence chief that Morsi fired, Murad Muwafi, was quoted in Wednesday's newspapers as saying his agency was aware of the Israeli warning regarding the border attack but did not think that Muslims would attack Muslims while they were breaking their fast during Ramadan.