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President Morsi Ousts Egypt’s Defense Minister, Rewrites Power Restrictions

After attacks on Egyptian border patrol left 16 guards dead, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi moved decisively to consolidate government power. He announced the retirement of defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and other top military leaders, many of whom served under former President Hosni Mubarak. Margaret Warner reports.

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    Finally tonight, Egypt's new president makes a surprise move to seize more political power and curb the authority of the military.

    Margaret Warner has the story.


    The news was cheered last night by supporters of president Mohammed Morsi, many of them fellow members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

  • AHMED HASSAN, Egypt (through translator):

    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.


    They were reacting to Morsi's surprise ouster of the country's top military brass, including powerful defense minister Hussein Tantawi. All were ordered to retire.

    Morsi also nullified a constitutional declaration issued just before his election, shifting vast powers from the president to the military.

    MOHAMMED MORSI, Egyptian president (through translator): Today's decisions are not directed at certain persons or meant to embarrass certain institutions.


    His action comes on the heels of his sacking the nation's intelligence chief after 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed by militants in Sinai.

    Tantawi, longtime defense minister under former President Hosni Mubarak, took part in forcing Mubarak's resignation early last year. And for 18 months after, he and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruled Egypt.