President Mohamed Morsy announced the reversal of the supplementary constitutional declaration issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and sacked Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan on Sunday. The dismissals came with a reshuffle of SCAF in an unprecedented assertion of civilian control over the Egyptian military. The monumental events solicited a wide range of responses across Egypt’s political spectrum and among the country’s activists and news outlets.
State-owned Al-Akhbar newspaper’s Monday issue carried the headline, “Morsy resolves the power struggle” across the top of the front page and referred to Morsy’s “revolutionary decisions” in the headline for the paper’s lead story. Independent newspaper Al-Watan’s front page read “Officially Brotherhood” emblazoned in large red letters referring to the sweeping governmental powers of President Morsy, who now inherits legislative powers. Daily independent newspaper Al-Tahrir also highlighted the extent of the Morsy’s power, stating “The President announces his revolution on the armed forces.” The Freedom and Justice newspaper, run by the Muslim Brotherhood political party, called the decisions “historic” and said “the streets of Egypt are filled with joy, and the political power: a revolutionary step.”
Many politicians and commentators, even those at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsy, have reacted favorably to the recent developments. Former liberal MP Amr Hamzawy has welcomed the actions taken by the President via Twitter saying, “Morsy’s decisions are going in the right direction and ends the site of the undemocratic junta.” However he also appealed to Morsy to talk to national forces to reach a national consensus on how to resolve the current crises of legislative authority and the constituent assembly. Fellow liberal MP and member of the dissolved Parliament Mostafa Al-Naggar spoke favorably of SCAF’s new head Major General Abdel Fattah El Sissy, saying that the youngest member of SCAF has “a vision close to the mentality of our generation and acknowledges what happened and is trying to convince himself of the errors.”
However not all liberals welcomed the president’s decisions. Former MP Mohamed Abu Hamed, a former member of the Free Egyptians Party founder of the new Life of the Egyptians Party, blasted the declaration. “The President-elect has issued a constitutional declaration giving himself additional powers away from supervision of the people.” Abu Hamed is an outspoken critic of the Muslim Brotherhood and has been the subject of accusations from the Freedom and Justice Party for incitement and has called for an uprising against them on 24 August.
As expected the FJP, of which Morsy is a member, praised the declaration. The FJP released a statement on Monday calling on Egyptians to hold a rally in Tahrir Square and at the Presidential Palace to celebrate the full transition of power to the President.
The April 6 Youth Movement also welcomed the news. In a statement released by the April 6 Youth Movement in Alexandria, the organisation called Sunday an important step in relinquishing power from the “corrupt” military institutions.
Political thinker Mohamed El Baradei stated his position on Morsy’s decision on Twitter. He acknowledged taking power from the military a step in the right direction, but said a president possessing both executive and legislative power is “contrary to the essence of democracy.” Similar to Hamzawy, he also highlighted the importance of tending to the constituent assembly and the re-election of Parliament. He went on to state that the “transitional mess continues.”