The head of Switzerland’s armed forces, André Blattmann, is set to step down from his post at the end of March 2017, following eight years at the helm.
Defence Minister Guy Parmelin, who took up his cabinet post in January, said it was a mutual decision between him and Blattmann to hand over the reins to a successor.
“It is the right time to make room for new people now that parliament has approved a reform of the armed forces,” Blattmann said.
Both men rejected media speculation that Parmelin put pressure on the 60-year-old army chief to take an early retirement.
Parmelin also denied that Wednesday’s announcement was linked to his decision earlier this week to suspend the purchase of a new air defence system.
He added that a working group will draw up a short list of candidates. The new head of the armed forces is to take up his post at the end of 2017.
Neutral Switzerland operates mainly on land and in the air. Under the country's militia system, professional soldiers constitute about 5% of the military and the rest are conscripts or volunteers aged 19 to 34.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch