Egypt president sweeps out army rulers

Egypt's new Islamist President Mohamed Mursi (C) speaks with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (L) and Egyptian Armed Forces Chief Of Staff Sami Anan during a soldier graduation ceremony at the Egyptian military academy in Cairo in this July 17, 2012 file photo. Mursi ordered Egypt's two top generals to retire, including Hussein Tantawi who led the nation after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, and appointed two generals in their place, the presidential spokesman announced on August 12, 2012. Tantawi, who served Mubarak as a minister for 20 years, and Chief of Staff Sami Enan were both appointed as advisers to Mursi. Spokesman Yasser Ali said the changes among Egypt's top brass were effective immediately. REUTERS-Sherif Abd Monam-Egyptian Presidency-Handout-Files

(Reuters) – Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi has driven back the biggest challenge to civilian rule by dismissing top generals and tearing up their legal attempt to curb his power in a bold bid to end 60 years of military leadership.

Taking the country by surprise, Mursi pushed Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi into retirement. The 76-year-old figurehead of the old order, he took charge of the biggest Arab nation when Hosni Mubarak fell last year and remained head of its powerful, ad hoc military council after the Islamist was elected in June.

The armed forces, which had supplied Egypt’s presidents for six decades after ousting the monarchy, have shown no sign of challenging the move announced late on Sunday, though a senior judge did speak up on Monday to question Mursi’s right to act.

Lower-ranking generals and other officers may, however, support a change that shifts power in the military to a new generation. One analyst said Mursi mounted a “civilian counter-coup” coordinated with an internal putsch in the armed forces.

State media cited a military source dismissing talk of any “negative reactions” by the generals to a decision which, given their earlier dissolution of parliament, now hands Mursi what liberal critic Mohamed ElBaradei described as “imperial powers“.

Mursi and his long-suppressed Muslim Brotherhood had been expected to roll back the influence of the army, a close ally of Washington and recipient of $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid; but many had predicted a process that would take years of delicate diplomacy to avoid sparking a military backlash.

Instead, just six weeks after he was sworn into office and seemingly taking advantage of a military debacle on the Sinai border that embarrassed the army, Mursi announced sweeping changes in the high command and reshaped Egypt’s politics.

“Mursi settles the struggle for power,” said a headline in the state-owned Al-Akhbar daily, a newspaper that is traditionally a mouthpiece for the army-backed establishment.

“Mursi ends the political role for the armed forces,” wrote the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm. Another, Tahrir, called it the “president’s revolution against the military”.


Reuters has the full article

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