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12 Aug, 2012 15:12

Egypt's president retires Field Marshal Tantawi, cancels new constitutional military powers

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has retired Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the head of the country’s Supreme Military Council and Chief of Staff Sami Annan. Morsi also canceled constitutional amendments giving the military wide powers.

Spokesman Yasser Ali has said the changes among the country's top brass are effective immediately.Tantawi was the commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, as well as the chairman of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces.He was Egypt's de-facto head of state from the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last February until the inauguration of President Morsi on June 30.President Morsi has already appointed Sedqi Subhy as new army chief of staff, and Abdelfattah Assisi as the new defense minister.Morsi has also named judge Mahmud Mekki as the vice president – the second time this post has been filled in Egypt in 30 years, AFP reports.The first vice president, spy chief Omar Suleiman, was appointed by ex-leader Hosni Mubarak, just days before his ouster.Dr Omar Ashour, director of the Middle East Studies Institute at Exeter University, thinks that the leader’s latest decision signifies that those more loyal to the presidency have begun their rise to power. “I think that a major decision has been taken today. It’s the first time in Egypt’s political history that an elected civilian overrules the heads of the military establishment in such a dramatic fashion. But…today’s appointments are also strategic: we see a major shake-up, but it’s not a civilian shake-up,” Ashour told RT. “Those are figures from the military establishment, even from the Supreme Council of the Military Armed Forces, that were promoted and appointed instead of the current heads. And I think the key issue here is that those figures are known to be more pro-reform and more willing to accept the current status quo in the aftermath of the revolution, <…> to accept more powers given to a civilian elected president. So, this is the big change.”With all that, radio host and producer Ralph Schoenman believes that the move by the Egyptian president is unlikely to ease the troubles of the country’s citizens.“Morsi is alienated from the population, he is attempting to contain them. He will not succeed because there is no reconciliation between the masses of the people – their deprivation, their aspirations – and this corrupt oligarchy which has continued power in Egypt,” he told RT.Morsi's decision comes in the wake of a military reshuffle following the Sinai security breakdown. Days ago, he also dismissed three senior security officials, as well as the North Sinai governor, over the killing of 16 soldiers in the area.President Morsi, who was elected in June, has also annulled the constitutional amendments made before he was sworn in.These amendments made by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) largely extended the military’s powers in Egypt, while limiting those of the presidency.The changes included appointing the military leaders and extending their terms in office.Relations between Morsi and the Egyptian military have been increasingly tense since the new president's election. Under the interim constitutional declaration adopted before Morsi came into power, the president couldn't rule on matters regarding the country's military. The Supreme Military Council also dissolved the Egyptian Parliament. In a struggle for power, President Morsi ordered it to reconvene, but his decree was later overruled by the Supreme Court.