Egypt's President Retires Defense Minister
Egypt's Islamist president ordered the retirement of the defense minister and chief of staff on Sunday and canceled 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 (Pic standing near the flag) decision had the military's blessing. But the appointment of outgoing Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Annan as presidential advisers suggests that the nation's top two soldiers may have agreed in advance to the decisions. Morsi also ordered the retirement of the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force.
Morsi on Sunday also appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president. Mekki is a pro-reform judge who publicly spoke against election fraud during Hosni Mubarak's 29-year rule before he was ousted in last year's uprising.
Tantawi was the head of Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which took over after Mubarak was forced from power in February 2011 and 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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