Interim President Adly Mansour has issued a presidential decree reconstituting the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to be headed by the defense minister and not the president for the first time in Egypt’s history, Al-Ahram’s Arabic News website reported on Thursday.
The council’s vice president is the chief of staff.
The SCAF’s new construction sees its members comprised of 23 top military generals from the army, navy, air force, air defence as well as the head of military intelligence.
It is the first time in Egypt’s history that the SCAF will not be headed by the president, who is, according to Egypt’s constitution, the chief commander of the armed forces, thus giving the military greater autonomy from civil authorities.
The new constitution, passed in January, includes a transitional article which gives the president the right to appoint the defence minister but also gives the SCAF the right to approve of its leader for eight years.
The defence minister decides which of his aides could also become council members.
Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is currently Egypt’s defence minister.
The president has the right to include members in the council as well as invite the council to meet whenever necessary. The president will head meetings that he calls.
The defence minister invites the council for a regular meeting every three months and whenever urgently needed. In case of a national threat or war, the council is considered in a continuous meeting.
Egypt has been ruled by a council of military generals for a total of almost 17 months, after the 2011 uprising which led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and before the 2012 presidential elections that brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi to power.