CAIRO— Egyptian President Mohamed
Morsi announced Sunday that he was sacking the country’s two top
military chiefs, a provocative move that could provoke a backlash from
the military amid a contentious debate over presidential powers.
Morsi, the country’s first Islamist statesman, also announced
he was suspending a constitutional decree the country’s generals passed
on the eve of his election in June that sharply reduced the powers of
the presidency and gave the military vast authority.
Morsi’s spokesman Yasser Ali announced those and other
personnel changes Sunday afternoon during an appearance on state
The president also ordered the Air Force, Air Defense
and Navy commanders to retire. Morsi also announced that he has
selected senior judge Mahmoud Mekki as the country’s vice president.
was not immediately clear whether the country’s Supreme Council of the
Armed Forces, whose members have long viewed Morsi suspiciously, agreed
to the reshuffle.
Morsi appointed Field Marshal Abdel Fattah
al-Sissi as defense minister and commander of the armed forces,
replacing Field Marshal Mohammed Hussain Tantawi. Tantawi served as
Egypt’s de-facto president after the 2011 wintertime revolt that toppled
President Hosni Mubarak. Morsi also forced Gen. Sami Anan, the
country’s second most powerful military chief, into retirement.
The move comes a week after militants
in northern Sinai attacked a checkpoint near the Israeli border and
killed 16 Egyptian security forces. The gunmen later tried to overrun an
Israeli border crossing station.