Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has fired his powerful intelligence chief, state media said Thursday, in the latest shake-up of the country’s security services.
Sisi appointed his chief-of-staff and close ally General Abbas Kamel as interim replacement for outgoing intelligence head General Khaled Fawzy, according to state media.
No reason was given for the move, which comes ahead of presidential elections to be held in March.
Sisi, who has run the country with an iron fist since 2014, has not yet officially declared himself a candidate, but he is widely expected to stand and win.
A former army chief, Sisi was elected in 2014 a year after leading the military’s overthrow of his predecessor Mohammad Mursi amid mass protests against the Islamist’s year-long rule.
Since then Egypt’s security forces have faced a string of attacks, notably in the Sinai Peninsula where the ISIL group is waging a deadly insurgency.
In October Sisi named a new armed forces chief of staff and announced changes in key security positions after at least 16 police officers were killed in the Western Desert some 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of Cairo.
Kamel, like Fawzy, keeps a low public profile.
Dubbed Sisi’s “box of secrets” by the press, he has been the president’s chief-of-staff since 2010 while at military intelligence, the defense ministry and then the presidency.