UK & World News
Egypt's President Sacks Generals In Shake-Up
Egypt's newly elected Egyptian president has ordered his defence minister and chief of staff to retire - his boldest move so far to seize back powers that the military stripped from his office before he took over.
Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been locked in a power struggle with the military since he took office on June 30.
But after militants killed 16 Egyptian soldiers a week ago at a border post with Israel in Sinai, he has sought more aggressively to assert his authority over the top generals.
A few days ago Mr Morsi fired the nation's intelligence chief and made two highly publicised visits to Sinai in the company of top commanders.
He also chaired several meetings with the military brass and made a point of calling himself the supreme commander of the armed forces in televised speeches.
Mr Morsi effectively dismissed defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who ruled Egypt for more than a year after the revolution that toppled ex-president Hosni Mubarak, and chief of staff General Sami Annan.
The president also scrapped a key constitutional document which gave the military legislative powers, his spokesman Yasser Ali said.
A few hours after the decisions were announced, Mr Morsi called on Egyptians to rally behind him.
"Today's decisions are not directed at certain persons or meant to embarrass certain institutions," he said in a televised speech.
After his address, thousands of Morsi supporters celebrated in Cairo's Tahrir Square - the birthplace of the uprising that ousted Mubarak 18 months ago.
"These are bold decisions that we have been waiting for for so long. These decisions are to complete the revolution, the revolution started to succeed," said Ahmed Hassan, a Morsi supporter.
If Mr Morsi's decisions go unchallenged, it could mean the end of six decades of de facto military rule since army officers seized power in a coup in 1952.
But removing Tantawi and Annan does not necessarily mean that the military, Egypt's most powerful institution, has been defeated or that it would give up decades of perks and prestige without a fight.
Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group, won both parliamentary and presidential elections in the first free and fair votes in Egypt's modern history.
The group had been repressed under Mubarak, who ran a secular state.