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EGYPT Little-known Al Sissi replaces Tantawi

He fought in Egypt’s surprise war against Israel in 1973

Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent
August 13, 2012

Cairo: Lieutenant General Abdul Fatah Al Sissi was little known to ordinary Egyptians until Sunday when President Mohammad Mursi appointed him as the defence minister and general commander of the army, replacing the powerful Field Marshal Hussain Tantawi.

Mursi also decided to appoint a vice-president. He appointed judge Mahmoud Mekki as his deputy, Mena reported, making him only the second vice-president to be named in Egypt in 30 years. Born on November 19,54, Al Sissi attended the Military Academy and graduated from it in 1969. He fought in Egypt’s surprise war against Israel in 1973. Al Sissi rose in military ranks until he became the head of the army’s intelligence service shortly before the revolt that forced Hosni Mubarak out of power. He held the post until Sunday.

The youngest member of the 19-strong Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took after Mubarak’s ouster in February last year, Al Sissi was rarely seen in public.

Other SCAF members used to host widely covered press conferences on major issues. Al Sissi was never seen at these events. However, he is said to have pressed for avoiding the use of violence during the anti-Mubarak revolt.

The first time his name hit the news was in June 2011 when the Amnesty International quoted him as admitting that female protesters, detained by the army three months earlier in Tahrir Square, were subjected to virginity tests. He claimed that the much-maligned tests were necessary to protect the army from rape allegations.

Al Sissi is Egypt’s youngest defence minister since Abdel Hakim Amer who held the post in 1954.

According to military sources, Al Sissi is known to have strong relations with current army commanders and was close to Tantawi in recent years.

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