Morsi retires defence minister, appoints vice-president

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (AFP)

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (AFP)

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday replaced his powerful Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi, sending him into retirement, and appointed a vice president, official media reported.

State television said Tantawi, who ruled Egypt for more than a year after the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, was replaced by Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

Armed forces chief Sami Anan was also retired, a week after a deadly attack on the Egyptian military in the lawless Sinai peninsula, the state broadcaster said.

Morsi appointed judge Mahmud Mekki as his deputy, the official news agency MENA reported, making him only the second vice president to be named in Egypt in 30 years.

Mubarak, who was ousted in a popular uprising last year, named his spy chief Omar Suleiman as vice president just days before he was forced to step down.

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. – AFP & Reuters

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