President Mohammed Mursi said his decision to retire a number of the country's top military generals was for the benefit of the nation. In a speech on Sunday evening he said:
I did not mean to send a negative message about anyone, but my aim was the benefit of this nation and its people.
The generals were awarded medals of honour, and appointed presidential advisers. Mursi said their retirement would enable them to focus on their "professional tasks." Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said:
The decision was a sovereign one, taken by the president to pump new blood into the military establishment in the interests of developing a new, modern state.