Millions rejoice but more trouble looms as army suspends constitution, says government of technocrats will take over until new elections; 39 killed in protests
Military special forces surround supporters of Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi in Nasser City, Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Army troops backed by armor and including commandos have deployed across much of the Egyptian capital, near protest sites and at key facilities and major intersections. (photo credit: AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Times of Israel: CAIRO (AP) — The armed forces ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president Wednesday after just a year in power, installing a temporary civilian government, suspending the constitution and calling for new elections. Islamist President Mohammed Morsi denounced it as a “full coup” by the military.
After the televised announcement by the army chief, millions of anti-Morsi protesters in cities around the country erupted in delirious scenes of joy, with shouts of “God is great” and “Long live Egypt.”
Fireworks burst over crowds dancing and waving flags in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicenter of the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Now it was one of multiple centers of a stunning four-day anti-Morsi revolt that brought out the biggest anti-government rallies Egypt has seen, topping even those of 2011.
But the move potentially throws the country into further confrontation.
Moments after the army statement, a statement on the Egyptian president’s office’s Twitter account quoted Morsi as saying the military’s measures “represent a full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation.”
Morsi has insisted his legitimacy as an elected president must not be violated or Egypt could be thrown in to violence. Some of his Islamist backers, tens of thousands of whom took to the streets in recent days, have vowed to fight to the end.
“Down with the rule of the military,” some of them chanted after the army announcement, reviving a chant used by leftist revolutionaries during the nearly 17 months of direct military rule that followed Mubarak’s removal.
The army has insisted it is not carrying out a coup, but acting on the will of the people to clear the way for a new leadership.
El-Sissi speaking on state televison. (Screenshot: Egypt State Television/ AP)
In his speech, army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court would step in as interim president until new elections are held. He would be sworn in judges of his court, el-Sissi said. A government of technocrats would be formed with “full powers” to run the country.
El-Sissi spoke while flanked by the country’s top Muslim and Christian clerics as well as pro-reform leader Mohammed ElBaradei and two representatives of the youth opposition movement behind the wave of protests.
He promised “not to exclude anyone or any movement” from further steps. But he did not define the length of the transition period or when presidential elections would be held. He also did not mention any role for the military.
The constitution, drafted by Morsi’s Islamist allies, was “temporarily suspended,” and a panel of experts and representatives of all political movements will consider amendments. He did not say whether a referendum would be held to ratify the changes, as customary.
Seeking to avert a destabilizing backlash, he warned that the armed forces, police will deal “decisively” with violence.
After the 9:20 p.m., the Brotherhood’s TV station went blank
Shortly before the 9: 20 p.m. announcement, the army deployed troops, commandos and armored vehicles in cities around the country. In Cairo, they stationed on bridges over the Nile River and at major intersections. They also surrounded rallies being held by Morsi’s supporters — an apparent move to contain them.
Travel bans were imposed on Morsi and top figures from his Muslim Brotherhood including its chief Mohammed Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater.
At least 39 people have been killed in clashes since Sunday, when the mass protests against Morsi began — hiking fears that greater violence could erupt when the final move was made against him. Street battles in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh on Wednesday left at least 200 people injured.
The army’s move is the second time in Egypt’s 2 ½ years of turmoil that it has forced out the country’s leader. It pushed out Mubarak and took power itself. This time, however, its removal of an elected figure could be more explosive.
Elected with 51.7 percent of the vote in last year’s presidential election, Morsi took office vowing to move beyond his roots in the Muslim Brotherhood.
But his presidency threw the country into deep polarization. Those who took to the streets this week say he lost his electoral legitimacy because he tried to give the Brotherhood and Islamist allies a monopoly on power, pushed through a constitution largely written by his allies and mismanaged the country’s multiple crises.
“Now we want a president who would really be the president of all Egyptians and will work for the country,” Said Shahin, a 19-year-old protester in Tahrir, said, falling to the ground to pray as soon as el-Sissi spoke.
Mahmoud Badr, spokesman for Tamarod, or Rebel — the youth movement behind the rallies — praised the crowds in the streets saying, they succeded in “putting your revolution back on track.”
“Let’s start a new page, a new page based on participation,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “Our hand is extended to all
Morsi and his allies say the opposition never accepted their appeals for dialogue — seen by opponents as empty gestures — and that Mubarak loyalists throughout the government sabotaged their attempts to bring change.
The military had issued an ultimatum on Monday giving Morsi 48 hours to find some solution with its opponents. Any deal, however, was a near impossibility, making it inevitable the military would move.
Earlier in the day, el-Sissi met with ElBaradei, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric — Al-Azhar Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb — and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, as well as youth representatives and some members of the ultraconservative Salafi movements. The consultations apparently aimed to bring as wide a consensus as possible behind the army’s moves.
But the Brotherhood boycotted the session, its political arm the Freedom and Justice Party said.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi addresses the nation in a televised speech on Tuesday, July 2. (photo credit: AP Photo/Egyptian State Television)
In a last-minute statement before the deadline, Morsi again rejected the military’s intervention, saying abiding by his electoral legitimacy was the only way to prevent violence. He criticized the military for “taking only one side.”
“One mistake that cannot be accepted, and I say this as president of all Egyptians, is to take sides,” he said in the statement issued by his office. “Justice dictates that the voice of the masses from all squares should be heard,” he said, repeating his offer to hold dialogue with his opponents.
“For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup,” Morsi’s top foreign policy adviser Essam al-Haddad wrote on his Facebook page.
*Mubarak was removed only to be replaced by someone worse, Morsi, backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Although this is a military coup, it seems to be backed by the people. Perhaps this will give Egyptians another chance at a fair and honest government of their choice. We can only hope and pray. Maybe it is a chance at a more stable Middle East… again, we can only hope and pray.
One thing about the protests that wasn't mentioned in the U.S. is the massive anti-Obama sentiment.
Egyptians who have thronged the streets in three days of nationwide pro- and anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests. Morsi's speech was answered by loud chants of "irhal!" - "leave!" from the protesters.
The Islamist rats were quicly leaving the sinking ship. Foreign Minister Kamel Amr tended his resignation, becoming the sixth minister to quit within the past 48 hours. Two of Morsi’s presidential spokesmen also quit, as did Sami Enan, Morsi's military adviser.
Doug Ross has an entire gallery of 15 photos showing the signs of the protesters that are being carried around excoriating President Obama and US Ambassador Anne Patterson, who they correctly see as enabling Morsi and the Brotherhood's tyranny. Hillary Clinton would be up there as well had she not already resigned.
Of course, the real story is what happens next. With Morsi ousted, a huge blow against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist Caliphate and President Obama (and Hillary Clinton) appear to have been aiding and abetting in the Arab world, which is a wonderful thing.
But Egypt still has terrific problems that need to be solved. Will military chief and defense minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi take over as strongman? Will the military midwife a government? And if so, what kind of government? Have the Egyptians finally developed a taste for freedom and democracy? We'll see.
It's now official. Defense minister and army chief General al-Sissi has announced that the Islamist constitution has been suspended, Morsi has been removed and arrested (he's been jailed in an undisclosed location) and that that the chief of the Constitutional court would be named as civilian head of government during a transitional period before another election. Under the army's control, of course, although al-Sissi didn't say that. That period will likely be anywhere from 9 months to a year.
Al-Sissi said the new government would be “diverse and include all the people,” and that the constitution would be revised to reverse changes made by the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohammed Morsi.
Travel bans have been imposed on the top figures from the Muslim Brotherhood including its chief Mohammed Badie and his deputy Khairat el-Shater, and Morsi is in custody.
Perhaps as we celebrate our own 4th of July and the brave people who fought for their and our freedom, by standing up to tyranny, we should also honor the brave people of Egypt who stood against tyranny this week. Too bad their tyranny included our own president and his administration.
Prayers-up for Egypt and for all those who have stood up courageously throughout history. We in America can hopefully draw some parallels back to our own fight for freedom and independence in the past and draw some knowledge, courage and encouragement from this week’s events for the fight that might lie ahead. AM~
h/t to JoshuaPundit
Update: 07.04.13 - 5-Brotherhood leaders arrested as Egypt interim leader sworn in
- Top Muslim Brotherhood leader(s) arrested
- * Sixteen people killed, hundreds wounded in clashes
- * Cairo calm after wild street parties
- * Despite crackdown, politicians call for reconciliation
Interesting sideline story:
Reuters: Princess Fawzia Fuad, a daughter and sister of Egyptian kings and the first wife of the last Shah of Iran, died on Tuesday in Alexandria, a member of the former royal family and a senior local police officer said.
Her death at the age of 91 was also reported on a Facebook page associated with her nephew, King Fuad II, Egypt's deposed and exiled last monarch.
Fawzia, the glamorous sister of Fuad's father King Farouk, married Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1939, before he acceded the throne in Tehran. They divorced nine years later.
Princess Melekper Toussou, a descendent of the former Egyptian royal family, told Reuters Fawzia had had no easy life.
"In a nutshell, "contre mauvaise fortune, bon coeur" (a brave spirit in the face of ill fortune) I think describes her perfectly," she said in apparent reference to her brief marriage to the Shah and to the 1952 coup that stripped the Egyptian royal family of its titles and its wealth.
She was one of a handful of royal family members who continued to live in Egypt after the 1952 revolution
"In all the years I knew her I never heard her complain, and, God knows, she had many reasons to," said Melekper Toussou.
Fawzia remarried, to an Egyptian army officer, on her return from her failed marriage to the Shah. The Shah went on to marry twice more and died in Cairo in 1980, less than a year after he was deposed in the Islamic revolution.
"The royal family of Egypt announces to the nation that it is mourning the passing of Her Royal Highness Princess Fawzia Fuad, daughter of His Majesty King Fuad I and sister of His Majesty King Faruk I and aunt of his Majesty King Fuad II and the former Empress of Iran," read a statement on the Facebook page.
"The funeral procession for Her Royal Highness Princess Fawzia will start after noon prayer on Wednesday," it added.
Relative Mohamed Yakin said she would be buried in Cairo.