by Mona Salem
by Mona Salem
CAIRO, Aug 13, 2012 (AFP)
Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi has emerged empowered after a “revolutionary” decision to dismiss his powerful defence minister and curb the military’s sweeping powers, media said Monday.
In a surprise move, Morsi on Sunday retired Defence Minister File Marshal Tantawi, 76, and armed forces chief of staff Sami Anan and scrapped a constitutional document that gave the military legislative and other powers.
The Egyptian press on Monday described Morsi’s move as “revolutionary”, with some saying it was aimed at curbing the powers of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
The state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper said the dismissal of Tantawi, who headed the SCAF for more than a year after massive streets protests forced Mubarak to step down, was a “revolutionary decision.”
“The Brothers officially in power,” declared the independent Al-Watan daily, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group which backs Morsi and through whose ranks he rose before his election triumph.
Thousands of Islamist supporters on Sunday flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square — cradle of the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak last year — to celebrate.
“The people support the president’s decision,” the crowd chanted.
Others mocked Tantawi’s departure, presented officially as a retirement.
“Marshal, tell the truth, did Morsi fire you?” they said.
Morsi in a late night speech on Sunday denied trying to marginalise the army, saying he was acting in the interests of the country.
“I never intended, through my decisions, to marginalise or be unjust toward anyone, but rather to act so that we advance toward a better future, with a new generation, long-awaited new blood,” Morsi said.
“I did not intend to embarrass institutions,” he added, saying he had “the interest of the country in mind.”
Morsi also amended the interim constitution to deny the military any role in public policy-making, the budget and legislation, and the right to pick a constituent assembly drafting a permanent constitution for post-Mubarak Egypt.
“The president has decided to annul the constitutional declaration adopted on June 17” by the SCAF, headed by Tantawi, his spokesman Youssef Ali said.
Mourad Ali, a senior official with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which fielded Morsi in the May-June presidential polls, praised the president.
“Given the circumstances, this is the right time to make changes in the military institution,” the Islamist official said. “He is a strong president, and he is exercising his authority.”
— Israel watches with ‘concern’ —
as presidential advisors.
familiar faces,” an analysis in Maariv newspaper said.