Without the Egyptian military in the way, there would be nothing to stop the Muslim Brotherhood from exerting complete control. It was Field Marshal Tantawi who dissolved parliament after the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists won the vast majority of the seats.

Cairo (PTI) – Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi on Sunday sacked the powerful Army chief and his No 2 and annulled a constitutional amendment issued by the generals, in a drastic move by the new-to-power Islamists to shuffle the top brass of the entrenched military.

Mursi packed off Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi as well as the second-in-command General Sami Anan into “retirement” and appointed both of them as ‘advisers’ to the president. Both of them were also given Egypt’s highest state honour — the Nile Medal.

The shock announcement over state television came amid an ongoing military operation in Sinai, where 16 soldiers were killed in an attack by militants last week.

No reason was given immediately for the radical move and it was not clear whether this was a unilateral step by the country’s first democratically elected president or was initiated after taking the military into confidence.

Field Marshall Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was appointed minister of defence and general commander of the Egyptian forces replacing 76-year-old Tantawi, Presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali announced in a televised statement.

The President also annulled a constitutional addendum that was issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on June 17 under which the Army took control of legislative powers and limited the president’s powers, after a Supreme Court verdict dismissed the elected parliament.

Mursi, 60, a leader of Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president in June this year, at a time of a constitutional and legislative void in the country.

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