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Egyptian President Morsi Ousts Military Leaders, Military-Declared Constitutional Amendments

Common Dreams staff

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi swears in newly-appointed Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi made waves on Sunday by ordering the removal of several figures in Egypt's military and revoking a military-declared constitutional amendment that had granted the military far reaching powers over the country.

In one day, Morsi ordered the firing of Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the leader of the 23-member Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the retirement of Army Chief of Staff General Sami Anan.

Morsi also ordered the retirement of the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force.

In addition, Morsi canceled the military-declared constitutional amendments that granted the top generals wide powers previously reserved for the head of state.

"The president has decided to annul the constitutional declaration adopted on June 17 by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power last year from ousted president Hosni Mubarak," Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali said in a statement carried on state television.

On the same day, Morsi appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president. Mekki is a pro-reform judge who publicly spoke against election fraud during Hosni Mubarak's ruling years.

The SCAF, which ruled Egypt for 17 months, following the country's uprising and ouster of 29-year dictator Hosni Mubarak, stripped the presidency of many of its key powers days before newly elected President Morsi's inauguration, through constitutional amendments that gave them the power to legislate the country, control the national budget and control the process of drafting a new constitution.

These military powers were reversed on Sunday through Morsi's maneuvers.

Analyist of Egyptian politics, Juan Cole, writes today:

I had suggested that Egypt since Morsi’s election has been sort of like Turkey in the 1990s and early zeroes, with ‘dual sovereignty,’ vested both in an elected, civilian government and a powerful ‘deep state’ or military establishment. I proposed that over time, elected authority has more legitimacy and that Egypt could move in the direct of Turkey in the past half-decade, wherein the elected government has gradually gotten the upper hand over the military.

I didn’t expect the process to take a month and a half, but many years [...]

The reasons for what has happened are murky...All I can say is, stay tuned.

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