Cairo: Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi’s decision to sack several military and security chiefs has raised his popularity among activists who criticized his belated reaction to a deadly attack this week on soldiers on the border with the Gaza Strip.

“These decisions mark a beginning for the president’s control of state institutions and implementation of his presidential powers,” said Mutaez Abdel Fatah, a professor of political science.

Days before Mursi’s inauguration as a president, the then military rulers issued a temporary constitution, curtailing presidential powers. Mursi and his Islamist allies have been pushing for regaining what they called the “usurped” powers, in what is perceived as a power struggle between the rookie president and the powerful military.

“The move to purge executive institutions of inefficient and corrupt officials deserves support,” said Ahmed Maher, a prominent activist in a popular revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago.

“However, these decisions are the minimum requirement at present. We look forward to seeing more,” he told Gulf News. Maher urged Mursi to act swiftly to “purge” state institutions of Mubarak’s alleged loyalists.

Shortly after Mursi’s decisions were announced on official television, hundreds of Egyptians flocked to the presidential palace in Cairo to voice their support for Mursi.

“Purging the security institutions is a key demand of the (anti-Mubarak) revolution,” said Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a former Islamist presidential contender. “Removing inefficient commanders involved in multiple abuses is a praiseworthy step. We will not build a new nation without an all-out purge,” he wrote in his Twitter account.