Egypt's top military brass ordered to retire

Relations between President Mohamed Mursi (C) and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (L) have been tense Photo: REUTERS

Egypt's president has ordered the defence minister and chief of staff to retire and has cancelled the military-declared constitutional amendments that gave top generals wide powers, according to a spokesman.

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

The decisions announced today are effective immediately.

Spokesman Yasser Ali said in a news conference aired on state TV that Mr Mursi has appointed a new defence minister, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

He replaces Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who headed the military council that ruled Egypt for 17 months after the removal of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Mr Tantawi was defence minister for nearly two decades under Mubarak.

According to a general, the decision to replace Tantawi was taken in consultation with him and the army council.

The military council's No 2, Chief of Staff Sami Annan, was also ordered to retire.

Mursi said Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Enan would become advisers to the president.