Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi proves his might by 'retiring' military chief 'for the benefit of the nation'



Mohamed Morsi is revelling in his
surprise new role as presidential strongman and revolutionary flag-bearer tonight, as speculation grew that his shock dismissal of Field Marshal Hussein
Tantawi was a “soft coup” triggered by the swelling ranks of disaffected army

Mr Morsi, previously perceived as something of a powder-puff president by many Egyptians, wrong-footed many of his critics late on Sunday by announcing the removal of General Tantawi, the man who served as Defence Minister for 17 years and who became the nation’s de facto leader as head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf).

The man selected to take his place was confirmed as Major General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the ex-military intelligence chief whose previously came to prominence when he admitted that the army had carried out controversial “virginity tests” on female protesters arrested last year.

Mr Morsi’s announcement, which analysts claimed was an ‘’historic’’ defeat for Egypt’s six-decade-old army establishment, was coupled with a decision to ditch a raft of legislative and constitutional powers which the military council had carved up for itself back in June.

Following the recent court decision to dissolve parliament, it means that Mr Morsi now enjoys full executive and legislative authority over the country – a major fillip for the Muslim Brotherhood, which appears to have outmaneuvered Egypt’s top brass after months of grappling over the reins of power.

“I see this as a coup,’’ said Hani Shukrallah, editor of Al Ahram Online, who added that there had been support for the move within some elements of the military. “The Scaf has been very badly discredited since the revolution. This has expressed itself within the ranks.”

Speaking to The Independent today, one junior officer said that many soldiers had come to ‘hate’ Field Marshall Tantawi. “The oldest officers don’t welcome this decision,” said Ahmed Salem. “But the younger ones do. Our reputation during Tantawi’s time has become very bad.”

The military’s sense of prestige, which is still a matter of intense pride for millions of Egyptians, took a battering this month following the deadly attacks by a group of militants in the Sinai desert which killed 16 soldiers.

According to some, the attacks gave an added impetus for Mr Morsi to jettison Tantawi. “After what happened in the Sinai, I think he thought that a lot of the guys in the Scaf are not people he needed,” said Koert DeBeuf, a representative of the European Parliament based in Cairo. “The Scaf has made a lot mistakes over the past year.”

Many political factions welcomed Mr Tantawi’s dismissal, with former presidential candidate Mohamed El-Baradei using his Twitter account to say that “ending military rule is a step in the right direction.”

Others expressed concern about the degree of power now being wielded by Mohamed Morsi. Only last week, a number of prominent newspaper journalists left their opinion columns blank in protest over allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood was trying to shoehorn favoured editors onto state-run publications.

Morsi’s recent gambit has stoked renewed fears about the group’s growing clout. “The Muslim Brotherhood now have all the power,” said Sherif Taher, a senior member of the liberal Al-Wafd Party. “They are taking over every aspect of this country.”


Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little