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Egypt's April 6 voices support for Morsi's security personnel changes

Prominent youth movement throws support behind president's Wednesday decision to sack handful of Mubarak-era security officials in wake of Sunday's Sinai border attack

Ahram Online, Thursday 9 Aug 2012
6 April
6 April Youth Movement in Tahrir (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement has called for a Wednesday night rally outside the Presidential Palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district to voice support for President Mohamed Morsi's recent decision to sack a handful of Mubarak-era security officials and demand further reform.

On Wednesday, Morsi issued a handful of decisions, one of which was to force Egyptian intelligence chief Mourad Mowafi into early retirement. Morsi appointed Major General Mohamed Shehata to serve as acting intelligence chief until a permanent appointment could be made.

Morsi also appointed former ambassador Mohamed Fathi Refaa El-Tahtawi as chief of his presidential staff, along with Mohamed Osama to head up the Cairo Security Directorate.

Since the president lacks the authority to change members of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), council head Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi sacked Major General Hamdi Badeen from his position as commander of Egypt's military police. Badeen's replacement has yet to be named.

April 6 co-founder Ahmed Maher said the moves should have been made earlier, but that the youth movement nevertheless supported them. "The people and the revolutionaries are waiting for more corrupt officials to be dismissed," Maher declared.

The personnel changes come largely as a result of the recent deterioration of security in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. On Sunday, unknown assailants staged an attack near Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip that left 16 border guards dead and several more injured.

Maher also accused "remnants of the Mubarak regime" of attempting to blame the border attack on Egypt's new president. Maher went on to attribute Sunday's attack to "thirty years of corrupt autocracy," stressing that the ousted president and his aides had deliberately neglected the Sinai region to please "foreign powers."

At a military funeral for the slain border guards on Tuesday, protestors chanted slogans against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing them of being responsible for Sunday's bloodshed.

Maher, who had earlier declined to join Morsi's advisory team, stated that militant groups were "widespread in Sinai" but stressed that "a security response is not the only solution." The demands of the people of Sinai must be realized, he said, "and they must be treated as Egyptian citizens."

Inji Hamdy, a member of April 6's political office, also hailed Morsi's decision to sack the Mubarak-era officials, but went on to call for the dismissal of long-serving SCAF head and Defence Minister Tantawi.

Egyptian novelist Alaa El-Aswani, too, declared his support for Morsi's personnel changes "as the beginning of a real purge of Mubarak's corrupt state."

Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali told Egypt's official news agency MENA on Wednesday that a number of political forces were heading to the Presidential Palace to show support for the president's recent decisions.

Some political figures, however, greeted the changes with scepticism.

Journalist Wael Qandil, member of the 'National Front for the Continuation of the Revolution,' accused Morsi of offering "scapegoats" rather than those who should have been punished.

Ahmed Khairy, for his part, spokesman for the liberal Free Egyptians party, asserted that that the personnel changes had been decided not by the president but by the military's National Defence Council.

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