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Egyptian President Morsi Defends Army Chief Sacking


Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi has said his move to order the retirement of two of the country's top generals was for "the benefit of this nation."

"To those attending and to the honorable Egyptian people, the decisions I took today were not meant to target certain persons," Morsi said.

"Nor did I intend to embarrass institutions. Nor could my aim ever be to narrow freedoms for those whom God created free."
Speaking after replacing the powerful head of the armed forces, Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, and chief of staff Sami Annan, the president praised the armed forces, saying they would now focus "on the holy mission of protecting the nation."
A constitutional decree issued previously by the military and aimed at curbing presidential powers has also been canceled.
Tantawi had been Egypt's interim ruler after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted following mass protests last year. There was no immediate reaction to the move from Tantawi or Annan. Both men have been officially retained by Morsi as presidential advisers.
Popular Support

Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on August 12 to support Morsi's decision.
Supporter Sayyed Abdul Azim declared his complete support for Morsi.
"This is a great decision by his grace President Muhammad Morsi to cancel the constitutional declaration that restrained Dr. Morsi and delayed him from doing many things. So we support this decision and we support Dr. Morsi with all of our energy," Azim said.
Likewise, supporter Ra'afat Abul Shenou said the move establishes the president's position over the military.

"Honestly, it's a wise step and one that gives rights back to the people, because it is completely natural that a president should not be restrained by this constitutional declaration and that he should not be ruled by orders from people who are his subordinates," Shenou said.
Morsi, who was elected in June, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Relations between the Brotherhood and the military have been tense since Mubarak's fall.
In addition to dismissing the generals and annulling the decree limiting presidential powers, Morsi amended the interim constitution to remove the military from any policy-making role concerning legislation or the budget.
The announcements marked a new stage in the uneasy relations between Egypt's first civilian president and the military, which has ruled the country for decades.

Based on reporting by Reuters and the BBC
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