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Thu 29 Aug 2013 09:13 AM

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Egyptian soldiers will no longer swear loyalty to president

Decree was issued by head of the army-backed administration installed by the military after it deposed President Mohamed Mursi

Egyptian soldiers will no longer swear loyalty to president
Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front a prison in the Suez Canal city of Port Said following the court verdict over the deadly football riot of 2012, in the Suez Canal city of Port Said on March 9, 2013. An Egyptian court handed down sentences ranging from one year in prison to life after a deadly football riot, and confirmed death sentences for 21 of the 73 defendants issued last month. (AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian soldiers will no longer swear loyalty directly to the president of the republic, according to a published decree, a symbolic change analysts said underlined the military's independence from any civilian control.

Officers will vow to "execute the orders of my leadership", according to the amended oath of allegiance, that removes the phrase: "I will be loyal to the president of the republic".

The decree was issued on Tuesday by interim head of state Adly Mansour, head of the army-backed administration installed by the military after it deposed President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood on July 3.

"The change is a positive one. It was meant in order not to make the oath personal. It already includes reference to the president, as he is one of the army's leaders," army spokesman Ahmed Ali told Reuters. "This way makes the loyalty to the leadership and not to a person," he said.

Analysts saw another symbolic aspect to the shift.

Nathan Brown, a professor at George Washington University and a leading Egypt expert, noted that the text of the decision showed that it was based on material presented to the president by army chief General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

Sisi also serves as a vice president and as the defence minister in the interim government formed after the army overthrew Mursi last month.

"I don't think anyone would believe that this is likely to be the president's initiative," he said.

"In short, this is a military-initiated step, rubber-stamped by an acting president," he said. "It is clear from this who is calling the shots."

Brown also noted that in contrast to other countries, where the army "might swear allegiance to the constitution and laws", in Egypt, soldiers and officers will no longer be swearing allegiance to "any civilian official, law or procedure".

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