News24

1 000s support Morsi in Tahrir rally

2012-08-17 07:47

Cairo - Several thousand supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi held a rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday to back his purge of military commanders while whittling the army's powers.

The rally comes less than two weeks before a planned protest campaign by opponents of Morsi, who barely won a divisive election in June to become the country's first civilian and Islamist president.

Morsi called for "patience and work" in a sermon at a mosque kilometres from the square, which acted as the nerve centre of a popular uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak early last year.

The military, which took charge after Mubarak's ouster, had tried to retain powers even after Morsi's inauguration, controlling the budget and assuming the powers of the Islamist-dominated parliament it had disbanded in June.

Aides to the president and members of his Muslim Brotherhood movement said he was prompted to move against the generals, including defence minister and former military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, after a deadly militant attack in Sinai on 5 August.

The attack on an army outpost killed 16 soldiers and embarrassed the military, which critics said had been ill prepared and allowed to deteriorate under the watch of its aging commanders, appointed by Mubarak.