News / Middle East

Morsi Faces Down Egyptian Military As Deadline Looms

Henry Ridgwell
Huge numbers of Egyptians demonstrated into the night, some backing elected President Mohamed Morsi and others pressing him to resign, even as the military prepares to step in.

President Morsi met Tuesday with the nation's top military official for a second time in two days while supporters massed in Cairo's Nasr City district in a show of solidarity.  Opposition demonstrators thronged the city's Tahrir Square.  

Egypt's military has given Morsi until Wednesday to resolve differences with the country's opposition groups, warning if he fails it will present its own roadmap for Egypt's future.  Parts of that plan leaked to Egypt's state-run news agency and other media indicate military officials are prepared to suspend the constitution, dissolve the legislature and set up an interim administration.

Morsi has said he will not give in to the military's ultimatum.  Members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood have told media they are prepared to stand in front of tanks and martyr themselves to prevent what they see as a coup attempt against an elected leader.

Above Tahrir Square, the military helicopters buzzing Cairo elicit cheers from the crowds below.  The protests are swelling; the opposition emboldened by the military's ultimatum that President Morsi reaches a power-sharing deal.

Among them, protester Mohamed Shaaban. He said Dr. Morsi can suggest anything to the people in the square - but it's the people of the square who are doing the talking.

All eyes are on the army's next move, said Maha Azzam of policy institute Chatham House, who spoke to VOA on the phone from Egypt. "What we're seeing is the upper echelons of the military attempting to dictate the political process in Egypt. They don't want to be at the forefront of politics, but they are ultimately directing the political road map," Azzam explained. "And that is unacceptable in a democracy."

President Morsi has rejected the military's demand. In a statement Tuesday he said he would not let the clock be turned back on civilian rule.

Watch aerial footage of protesters in Tahrir Square:

Watch related video of anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir Squarei
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July 02, 2013 4:04 PM
Opposition groups calling for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's resignation gather again in Cairo's Tahrir Square as Morsi meets with the nation's top military official.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for the president's supporters to take to the streets to "express their refusal of any coup."

"The polarization that is happening in Egypt today is greater than we've ever seen before. And the consequences of unseating a freely elected president are going to be absolutely chaotic in terms of the interests of the Egyptian people as a whole and the future of democracy in the region at large," said Azzam.

The protesters feel this is a second revolution, said Emily Dyer of analyst group The Henry Jackson Society. "Many people feel that the demands that they had in the first revolution in January 2011, which was to put it simply 'bread, freedom and social justice,' have not been met," he noted.

  • 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.

But Dyer said the opposition has failed to offer a cohesive alternative.

"No opposition parties within the National Salvation Front, which is the umbrella opposition movement, have yet put forward a clear alternative policy plan, whether that would be dealing with the economic problems that Egypt is currently facing, the problem that a third of their budget is spent on subsidies," said Dyer.

Britain and Germany echoed U.S. President Obama's concerns over the crisis Tuesday and urged a peaceful resolution. Rupert Colville is spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"It's really important that the government and opposition get together and discuss how they can move forward. Egypt's democracy is obviously very fragile and nobody wants to see it collapse or fall apart in some way," said Colville.

Analysts said Egypt is now entering the unknown - and the military will likely decide the fate of President Morsi in the coming days.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 03, 2013 1:16 AM
I think neither any religous group nor millitary power should take administrations. Egyptian legislation must have denied any political activities for religeous groups since the last revolution. Millitary power must have been set under the control of president.

The main reason why Morsi is being eroded by Muslim and millitary power seems owing to the estrangement from general people who are struggling bad economy. What has made Egyptian economy so worse?
In Response

by: ashi from: sapporo
July 03, 2013 9:26 AM
If people do not support the president, what allows him to be the position?

by: ali baba from: new york
July 02, 2013 2:59 PM
Egypt want Hosni Mubarak back to power..Muslim brotherhood is a Egyptian night mare .religious fanatic is the source of evil. Egypt want secular Gov. religious fanatic has their place in mental institution

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 02, 2013 12:35 PM
Democracy at a tipping point. The people have made their demand clear: Morsi is not the man to lead Egypt’s democracy. He is biased and has vested interest in islamization of the country. This runs counter to his election promises. What Egypt wants now is a man democratic both in mind and action, not one who says a thing and means another like Morsi and his muslim brotherhood. Morsi goes to meet the army. He sees that the army has the overwhelming support of the people and he wants to tap into it.

The army may need not to be told that Morsi will sack them immediately he survives this latest pressure from the people. If that happens, Morsi will have succeeded in intimidating the whole country to subjugation under muslim brotherhood of Hamas. And there is nothing that will change Morsi’s doggedly planted feet into islamification of Egypt having taking his cue from both Iran and Saudi Arabia. This is the only opportunity for the people to achieve what they want – Morsi’s autocracy or another election. Maybe the people demonstrating in Tahrir Square can change their mind and lend their support to Morsi once again to continue to marginalize the Coptics, the liberals and minority peoples of Egypt.
In Response

by: JD92618 from: Newport Beach, USA
July 02, 2013 4:09 PM
You're right. Democracy is at a tipping point. But with all due respect, it seems like you're in favor of throwing democracy out the window. I don't like Morsi, but wasn't he democratically elected? Part of a functional democracy is putting up with with elected officials who you are quite convinced will destroy your country. We got through Bush...two times. And for the other half of my country, they'll get through Obama....two times.

You'll survive Morsi. I'd think twice before implying that you're a fan of democracy, but not THIS democracy. Also, it's hard to vote the military out of office.

Best of luck. The entire world would love to see a peaceful, prosperous Egypt.

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