Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has no plans to seek the position of defense minister in a new government to be formed by President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian media reported, quoting high-ranking SCAF sources.
Tantawi’s decision was due to his “unwillingness to take on again the huge burden of responsibility that he has carried for the past few years,” reports said.
Tantawi plans to offer the defense minister’s post to a SCAF member after discussing his candidacy with Morsi.
The SCAF head is expected to officially announce his decision within the next few days, the reports said.
The report contradicts an earlier statement by Major-General Mohamed Assar, a SCAF member, who said in late June that Tantawi would keep his post as defense minister in the new cabinet.
Tantawi, 76, served as defense minister for some 20 years under President Hosni Mubarak. He took power in Egypt following Mubarak’s ouster in last year’s revolution.
Tantawi and his generals have been accused of trying to cling to power and unwilling to hand over their authority to a civilian leader.
Shortly before the June presidential elections won by Morsi, the country’s highest court ruled to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament, saying that its election was “unconstitutional.” The SCAF confirmed the ruling.
On June 17, just hours after the end of the presidential vote, the military council issued a declaration granting itself sweeping powers, including the legislative authority, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution.
On June 30, the SCAF formally handed over power to Islamist leader Morsi, who narrowly defeated Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under Mubarak, in the presidential race.
In his first public challenge to the SCAF generals, Morsi on Sunday ordered the dissolved parliament to reconvene. Later on, the high court ruled against the presidential decree, saying that its ruling to dissolve the legislature was final and binding.