Egypt’s president fires head of armed forces

Al Jazeera reports: Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s president, has dismissed the head of the armed forces and defence minister, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, according to the country’s state news agency.

President Mohammed Morsi also appointed a senior judge, Mahmoud Mekki, as vice president.

The decisions announced Sunday are effective immediately.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent, Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said the president’s spokesperson made the surprising announcement on state television.

“The other shock announcement was ‘the retiring’ of Sami Enan, the chief of staff.

“There will be a lot of questions asked, especially if Morsi is able to do this,” our correspondent said.

“In the coming hours, we will find out how this decision came about. All of this has happened very fast, and it was unexpected.”

Spokesman Yasser Ali said in a news conference aired on state TV that Morsi appointed a new defense minister, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

He replaces Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who headed the military council that ruled Egypt for 17 months after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011.

Tantawi 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.

Reuters adds: The Egyptian president’s decision to order Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to retire from his posts of defence minister and head of the armed forces was taken in consultation with him and the army council, a general said.

“The decision was based on consultation with the field marshal and the rest of the military council,” General Mohamed el-Assar told Reuters. In a reshuffle of the top brass announced on Sunday, Assar was appointed deputy defence minister.

President Mohamed Mursi said Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Enan had been ordered to retire and would become advisers to the president.

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