News / Middle East

Clock Ticks as Egypt's Military Reveals Post-Morsi Plans

Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the entrance of the presidential palace, in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
Egyptian soldiers stand guard at the entrance of the presidential palace, in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
ReutersVOA News
Egypt's army has plans to push Mohamed  Morsi aside and suspend the constitution after an all but impossible ultimatum it has given the Islamist president expires in less than 24 hours, military sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Meanwhile,  Morsi has defiantly declared that he will not step down, despite a demand by huge numbers of demonstrators that he do so.

Morsi went on national television late Tuesday and reminded viewers that he was democratically elected more than a year ago. He said he intends to carry out his constitutional duties, despite mass protests demanding his resignation.

The Egyptian president also demanded that the military withdraw its threat to intervene in the country's political crisis. The military has warned that it will impose a roadmap for Egypt's future if differences between Morsi and his opponents are not resolved by Wednesday.

Condemning a coup against their first freely elected leader, tens of thousands of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, clashing with opponents in several towns. But they appeared to be dwarfed by anti-government protesters who turned out in their hundreds of thousands across the nation.

Troops were on alert after warnings of a potential civil war. Seven people died in fighting in Cairo suburbs and hundreds were wounded in the provinces.

Morsi defied a demand by the armed forces chief on Monday that he agree to share power with his opponents within 48 hours or have the generals take charge. Calling the army statement misleading and divisive, he said he would stick to his own plan.

But time has all but run out for Morsi, as liberal leaders are refusing to talk to him. Opponents have been dancing in the streets since the intervention by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Military sources told Reuters that, assuming the politicians failed to end a year of deadlock under Morsi before Wednesday's 5 p.m. (1500 GMT) deadline, the generals had their own draft programme ready to implement - though it could be fine-tuned in consultation with willing political parties.

Under the roadmap, the military would install an interim council, composed mainly of civilians from different political groups and experienced technocrats, to run the country until an amended constitution was drafted within months.

That would be followed by a new presidential election, but parliamentary polls would be delayed until strict conditions for selecting candidates were in force, the sources said.

They would not say how the military intended to deal with Morsi if he refused to go quietly. One power he might seek to exercise would be to call a referendum on continuing his term.

Some of his Islamist supporters have vowed to defend what they see as the legitimate, democratic order, even if it means dying as martyrs. And some have a history of armed struggle against the state.

Troops

The confrontation has pushed the most populous Arab nation closer to the brink of chaos amid a deepening economic crisis two years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, raising concern in Washington, Europe and neighboring Israel.

Troops intervened to break up clashes in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. They were also out on the streets of Suez and Port Said, at either end of the Suez Canal. The waterway is vital to world trade and to Egypt's struggling economy.

Morsi was looking increasingly isolated as ministers and officials who are not members of his Muslim Brotherhood resigned. He also lost a judicial battle when a court evicted his prosecutor-general and reinstated a Mubarak appointee.

Egypt's Coptic Pope, spiritual leader of the country's 10 percent Christian minority, expressed open support for the anti-Morsi Tamarud (Rebel) movement in a tweet, voicing support for the trio of people, army and youth.

The leading Muslim religious authority, Al-Azhar, called for the will of the people to prevail peacefully.

Morsi met Sisi for a second day, his office said, along with Prime Minister Hisham Kandil. A presidential aide told the state news agency there had been no "disagreements" but there was no outward sign of a meeting of minds.

Though Morsi has held out repeated offers of dialogue, liberal opponents accuse him and the Brotherhood of bad faith and have ruled out starting talks with him before the deadline.

After that, former U.N. nuclear agency chief Mohamed  ElBaradei will deal directly with the military on behalf of the main coalition of liberal parties. Also planning to take part are leaders of the Tamarud youth movement, which initiated mass rallies on Sunday that the army says prompted it to act.

Military sources said the armed forces would talk with the opposition National Salvation Front and other political, religious and youth organizations after the deadline.

Among figures being considered as an interim head of state was the new president of the constitutional court, Adli Mansour.

The new transition arrangements would be entirely different from the military rule that followed Mubarak's fall and more politically inclusive, the sources said.

Then, the ruling armed forces' council was widely criticised by liberal and left-wing politicians for failing to enact vital economic and political reforms - and for siding with the Brotherhood.

Fighting

Fighting between Morsi supporters and opponents broke out in the Cairo suburb of Giza, in Alexandria and in the town of Qalyubia, north of Cairo, security sources said.

Opposition protesters shout slogans and show a defaced poster of their president as they gather in thousands at the Presidential Palace to protest against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, July 2, 2013.Opposition protesters shout slogans and show a defaced poster of their president as they gather in thousands at the Presidential Palace to protest against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
x
Opposition protesters shout slogans and show a defaced poster of their president as they gather in thousands at the Presidential Palace to protest against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
Opposition protesters shout slogans and show a defaced poster of their president as they gather in thousands at the Presidential Palace to protest against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
Protesters thonged Cairo's Tahrir Square, where hovering military helicopters got loud cheers. A quarter of a million packed the square after work, celebrating wildly what they believe is Morsi's impending departure.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders branded the military ultimatum a "coup", backed by a threat that the generals will otherwise impose their own road map for the nation.

The Brotherhood's political wing called for mass counter- demonstrations to "defend constitutional legitimacy and express their refusal of any coup", raising fears of violence. But the biggest pro-Morsi rally in the a Cairo suburb appeared to attract around 100,000 supporters, Reuters witnesses said.

The Brotherhood long avoided direct confrontation with the security forces despite suffering oppression under Mubarak.

After millions protested on Sunday, Sisi delighted Morsi's opponents by effectively ordering the president to heed the demands of the street. It took the president's office nine hours to respond with a statement indicating he would go his own way.

"The president of the republic was not consulted about the statement issued by the armed forces," it said. "The presidency confirms that it is going forward on its previously plotted path to promote comprehensive national reconciliation ... regardless of any statements that deepen divisions between citizens."

Describing civilian rule as a great gain from the revolution of 2011, Morsi said he would not let the clock be turned back.

The United States, which has previously defended Morsi's legitimacy as a democratically elected leader, stepped up pressure on him to heed the mass protests but stopped short of saying he should step down.

President Barack Obama told Morsi in a phone call late on Monday that the political crisis could only be solved by talks with his opponents, the White House said.

Secretary of State John Kerry hammered home the message in a call to his outgoing Egyptian colleague on Tuesday.

At least six ministers who are not Brotherhood members have tendered their resignations since Sunday, including Foreign Minister Mohamed  Kamel Amr. The president's two spokesmen and the cabinet spokesman also quit on Tuesday and nearly 150 Egyptian diplomats signed a petition urging Morsi to go.

Senior Brotherhood politician Mohamed  El-Beltagy denounced what he called a creeping coup. He said he expected the High Committee for Elections to meet within hours to consider annulling the 2012 presidential election.

Concern

The United States has long funded the Egyptian army as a key component in the security of Washington's ally Israel.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to his Egyptian counterpart on Monday. It is unclear how far the military has informed, or coordinated with, its U.S. sponsors but an Egyptian official said a coup could not succeed without U.S. approval.

The United Nations Human Rights office called on Morsi to listen to the demands of the people and engage in a "serious national dialogue" but also said: "Nothing should be done that would undermine democratic processes."

A senior European diplomat said that if the army were to remove the elected president, the international community would have no alternative but to condemn it.

Yasser El-Shimy, Egypt analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the army ultimatum had hardened positions, making it very difficult to find a constitutional way out of the crisis.

"Things could deteriorate very rapidly from there, either through confrontations on the street, or international sanctions," he said.

"Morsi is calling their bluff, saying to them, 'if you are going to do this, you will have to do it over my dead body'."

​For many Egyptians, fixing the economy is key. Unrest since Mubarak fell has decimated tourism and investment and state finances are in poor shape, drained by extensive subsidies for food and fuel and struggling to provide regular supplies.

The Cairo bourse, reopening after a holiday, shot up nearly 5 percent after the army's move.
  • A protester, opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, holds up Egypt's flag during a protest demanding that Morsi resign at Tahrir Square in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
  • Supporters hold posters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi during a rally near Cairo University Square in Giza, July 2, 2013.
  • Opponents of Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi guard the entrances of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, July 2, 2013.
  • Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi hold sticks and wear protective gear outside of the Rabia el-Adawiya mosque near the presidential palace, in Cairo, Tuesday, July 2, 2013.
  • A vendor sells flags and anti-Morsi signs during protest demanding that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi resign at Tahrir Square in Cairo, July 2, 2013.
  • An military helicopter flies over an opponent of President Mohamed Morsi as he waves a national flag in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, July 2, 2013.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Transferred to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid