A noted Middle East analyst says the Egyptian military's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi is not a coup d’etat because it has created a civilian administration to take his place.
Nezar AlSayyad, chair of the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, correctly predicted on Tuesday that the military would seize power the next day.
AlSayyad also predicted Egypt's Constitutional Court would be a key part of the Army governing solution until new elections could be held.
The Berkeley scholar told VOA that unlike February of 2011 when the military removed long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak from office and assumed power, this time the Army toppled Morsi, but created a civilian council headed by an interim head of state.
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"I am not really calling it a military [coup] at all. To the contrary, I am insisting that what should be called a military coup is what happened on February 11, 2011 when in fact the armed forces of Egypt removed President Hosni Mubarak,” said AlSayyad. “This was a complete coup because the military installed itself as the guardian of Egypt.
This time, the military simply removed a sitting president when there was tremendous opposition against him,” he said. “This time, the military has actually created a civilian council to govern the country headed by the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.”
In a televised address late Wednesday, Army chief Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi said Egypt's constitution has been suspended and the head of the constitutional court appointed interim head of state.
Sisi declared that the army was reflecting the call of the Egyptian people, responding to massive opposition demands that President Mohamed Morsi step down.
As part of a new military-backed "roadmap" for the country, Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution, and a national reconciliation committee.
AlSayyad said he has no reason to doubt the military’s declaration that the transition period would last for six months.
I have no reason to believe or to be suspicious about the time frame,” AlSayyad said.
At least this time we know it is not completely in the hands of the military,” he continued. “At least this time, we also know that the individuals involved have a degree of political knowledge and political experience. At least we have someone who knows the law.”
Meanwhile, a senior official of the African Union (AU) says it is likely the AU's Peace and Security Council will meet Thursday to discuss the change of government in Egypt.
Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, told VOA he also feels it is too early to say whether Morsi's ouster can be characterized as a military coup.
The AU has a standing policy of not recognizing leaders or regimes that come to power through unconstitutional means.