CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi appointed a new national intelligence chief and sacked the governor of the north Sinai region on Wednesday after gunmen killed 16 border guards there, a presidency spokesman said.
Mursi vowed to restore security in Sinai after the incident on Sunday, which officials blamed on Islamist militants who have stepped up attacks on security forces since the overthrow of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak last year.
He appointed Mohamed Shehata as acting head of intelligence, sending Mourad Mwafi into retirement, presidency spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters.
Ali said Mursi also asked the head of Egypt’s armed forces, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, to name a new head of military police, and named a new head of the presidential guard.
It was unclear how far Mursi had taken the decisions in consultation with the army, which has kept a tight grip on security policy since the overthrow of Mubarak.
But he made the changes after holding a national security meeting that brought together Tantawi as well as the prime minister and interior minister.
Explaining the changes, spokesman Ali said Egypt was going through a critical phase and it was necessary to protect “the Egyptian revolution and the Egyptian will”.
Mursi, an Islamist, won Egypt’s first open leadership contest in June to succeed Mubarak.
But the army, which was Egypt’s main power broker for six decades and oversaw the post-Mubarak transition, has kept a veto over legislation and a new constitution.
A powerful security apparatus suppressed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood during Mubarak’s three-decade rule and suspicion of Islamists is common in many state institutions.
Mursi called for changes at the Interior Ministry, instructing the minister, Ahmed Gamal el-Din, to improve security and naming two senior ministerial assistants.
(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Additional reporting by Shaimaa Fayed and Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Myra MacDonald)