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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs