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Egypt's president sacks top military general in bid for civilian supremacy

President Morsi and Field Marshal Tantawi have been gripped in a power struggle for months. In a surprise move, Morsi fired Tantawi today.

By Associated Press / August 12, 2012

Egyptian Field Marshal Gen. Hussein Tantawi, (l.), President Mohammed Morsi, (center), and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan attend a medal ceremony at a military base east of Cairo, Egypt on July 5. Morsi suddenly dismissed Tantawi Sunday.

Sherif Abd El Minoem/AP/File

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Cairo

Egypt's Islamist president ordered his defense minister and chief of staff to retire on Sunday and canceled the military-declared constitutional amendments that gave top generals wide powers.

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It was not immediately clear whether the decision had the military's blessing. President Mohamed Morsi has been in a power struggle with the military since he came to power on June 30. Shortly before he was announced the winner of elections, the ruling military council that took power after Hosni Mubarak's ouster stripped the presidency of many of its key powers.

Mr. Morsi also appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president. All decisions are effective immediately.

Outgoing Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi headed the ruling military council for 17 months after Mubarak's ouster in February 2011. Before that, he was defense minister for nearly two decades under Mubarak. The military council's No. 2, Chief of Staff Sami Annan, was also ordered to retire. But both men were appointed advisers to Morsi, according to state television.

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said told a news conference aired on state TV that Morsi named a career army officer, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, to replace Tantawi and Lt. Gen. Sidki Sayed Ahmed to replace Annan.

Morsi also ordered the retirement of the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force. The retired navy commander, Lt. Gen. Mohan Mameesh, was named as chairman of the Suez Canal, the strategic waterway linking the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and a major source of revenues for the country.

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