Hussein Tantawi: Head of Egypt’s military council

  • Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi is the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that has ruled Egypt since a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign on Feb. 11.
  • On February 11, 2011 when President Hosni Mubarak resigned, after 18 days of protests from the Egyptian people, he transferred authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, headed by Tantawi. The council, overseeing issues with the Chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Farouk Sultan, have since dissolved the Egyptian parliament, overseen the referendum over temporary constitutional amendments take place on March 19, and have presided over the accountability of Mubarak and many of the former regime’s top figures summons to justice.
  • On a personal level, Tantawi had kept a relatively low profile since the handing over of power to the Council, only making a first public appearance in an address to mark the graduation of a batch at the Police Academy on 16 May 2011. After a new series of protests in November 2011, that escalated by 22nd November to over 33 dead and over 2,000 injured in the wake of the use of force by the police to quell protests at Tahrir Square and its vicinity, Tantawi appeared on Egyptian national television to pledge the speeding up of presidential elections – the principal demand of protesters – and that the armed forces “are fully prepared to immediately hand over power and to return to their original duty in protecting the homeland if that what they people want, through a popular referendum if necessary.

Some quick notes:

  • He was born on Oct. 31, 1935 and joined the armed forces in 1956.
  • He has served as minister of defence and military production since 1991 and as general commander of the armed forces since 1995.
  • He fought in wars against Israel in 1956, 1967 and 1973.
  • He was appointed deputy prime minister, in addition to his post as defence minister, after Mubarak sacked his cabinet in a failed attempt to calm mass protests on Jan. 29.
  • He denied any presidential ambitions after an appearance in civilian clothes in September sparked media speculation that he might seek the office. He has kept a low public profile.

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