Cairo: Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi has sent intelligence chief Mohammad Al Tohamy into retirement, the official Middle East News Agency (Mena) reported on Sunday, a move reportedly taken on health grounds.

Al Sissi, who once served as the head of the military intelligence, decreed that Khalid Fawzy, the head of the National Security Agency, replaces Al Tohamy.

He also named Mohammad Taraq as Fawzy’s deputy, according to the agency.

Al Tohamy, a long-time associate of Al Sissi, had been appointed the intelligence chief in July 2013, days after Al Sissi, the then defence minister, led the army’s ouster of Islamist president Mohammad Mursi.

Al Tohamy, now in his sixties, had also served as the head of the state oversight watchdog, the Administrative Control Authority, a post he held until September 2012 when Mursi, the then president, sacked him.

Al Tohamy is believed to be a key proponent of the tough security crackdown on Islamists that followed Mursi’s overthrow.

There was no official explanation for Al Tohamy’s replacement.

Mena tersely said that Al Sissi had bestowed the Medal of Republic, a prestigious Egyptian order, on Al Tohamy in appreciation of “his efforts and dedication during his career”.

Independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm meanwhile said that Al Tohamy had left for a European country to undergo “urgent and delicate” surgery, requiring him to be away for at least 45 days.

The paper, citing an unnamed source, said that Al Tohamy is suffering from problems pertaining to the hip and joints.