News / Middle East

Egypt on Edge After Morsi Rebuffs Army Ultimatum

Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi demande his resignation in Tahrir Square, Cairo, July 2, 2013.
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi demande his resignation in Tahrir Square, Cairo, July 2, 2013.
Reuters
President Mohamed Morsi clung to office on Tuesday after rebuffing an army ultimatum to force a resolution to Egypt's political crisis, and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood sought to mass its supporters to defend him.
 
But the Islamist leader looked increasingly isolated, with ministers resigning, the liberal opposition refusing to talk to him and the armed forces, backed by millions of protesters in the street, giving him until Wednesday to agree to share power.
 
In a defiant 2 a.m. statement, Morsi's office said the president had not been consulted before the armed forces chief-of-staff set a 48 hour deadline for a power-sharing deal and would pursue his own plan for national reconciliation.
 
Newspapers across the political spectrum saw the military ultimatum as a turning point. “Last 48 hours of Muslim Brotherhood rule,” the opposition daily El Watan declared. “Egypt awaits the army,” said the state-owned El Akhbar.
 
The president's office said Morsi was meeting chief-of-staff General Abdel Fateh al-Sisi and Prime Minister Hisham Kandil for the second straight day.
 
The confrontation has pushed the most populous Arab nation closer to the brink amid a deepening economic crisis two years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, raising concern in Washington, Europe and neighboring Israel.
 
Military sources said troops were preparing to deploy on the streets of Cairo and other cities if necessary to prevent clashes between rival political factions.
 
Protesters remained encamped overnight in Cairo's central Tahrir Square and protest leaders called for another mass rally later in the day, dubbed a “Tuesday of persistence”, to try to force the president out.
 
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, the Freedom and Justice Party, called on supporters to stage mass counter-demonstrations to “defend constitutional legitimacy and express their refusal of any coup”, raising fears of violence.
 
One FJP leader urged “free revolutionaries” who supported Mursi to prepare for martyrdom.

  • 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.

Heed the call
 
Sisi delighted Morsi's opponents on Monday 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. Egypt's first freely elected leader, he has been in office for just a year. But many Egyptians are impatient with his economic management and inability to win the trust of non-Islamists.
 
Morsi spoke to U.S. President Barack Obama by phone on Monday, stressing that Egypt was moving forward with a peaceful democratic transition based on the law and constitution.
 
The White House said Obama, visiting Tanzania, encouraged him to respond to the protests and “underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process”.
 
Resignations
 
Six ministers who are not Brotherhood members have tendered their resignations since Sunday's huge demonstrations, including foreign minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr. The cabinet spokesman also resigned, the state news agency MENA said.
 
Kandil chaired a session of the rump cabinet without the key ministers of defense and the interior. Justice Minister Ahmed Suleiman denied reports that the government had resigned.
 
In another blow to the president, Egypt's top appeals court upheld the dismissal of the prosecutor general appointed by Morsi last year - a major bugbear to the liberal opposition.
 
The court removed public prosecutor Talaat Abdallah, accused of using his position to pursue journalists, artists and critics of the president while turning a blind eye to human rights abuses. It reinstated his predecessor.
 
Senior Brotherhood politician Mohamed El-Beltagy said the return of the Mubarak-era prosecutor was part of a creeping coup and he expected the High Committee for Elections to meet within hours to consider annulling the 2012 presidential election.
 
“We are therefore facing a coup against the entire revolution and not just the legitimacy of the elections and the constitution,” Beltagy said on the FJP's Facebook page.
 
“So will the free revolutionaries allow this coup? Or will they stop it even at the price of joining a new martyrs' brigade, following the martyrs of the previous revolution?”
 
Compounding a sense of an administration disintegrating even as the president hangs on, Morsi's military adviser, U.S.-trained former chief-of-staff General Sami Enan, also resigned.
 
El-Watan quoted senior General Adel El-Morsi as saying that if there were no agreement among political leaders to hold early presidential elections, the alternative could involve “a return to revolutionary legitimacy”.
 
Under that scenario, the sole functioning chamber of parliament, the Islamist-dominated Shura Council, would be dissolved, the Islamist-tinged constitution enacted under Mursi would be scrapped, and a presidential council would rule by decree until fresh elections could be held under new rules, he was quoted as saying. That is largely the opposition position.
 
Highlighting the huge scale of anti-Morsi protests, an opposition TV station broadcast aerial footage of vast crowds thronging Cairo's central Tahrir Square, spilling over a wide adjoining area and stretching across the Nile bridges. The army used helicopters to monitor the crowds on Sunday and Monday.
 
World powers are looking on anxiously, including the United States, which 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 Sisi, 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 Mursi to listen to the demands of the people and engage in a “serious national dialog” but also said: “Nothing should be done that would undermine democratic processes.”
 
A senior European diplomat said that if the army were to go further and remove Mursi by force, the international community would have no alternative but to condemn the toppling of a democratically elected president.
 
Yasser El-Shimy, Egypt analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the army ultimatum had hardened positions on either side, making it very difficult to find a constitutional way out of the crisis - for which Morsi might have used decree powers.
 
“It will have to override the constitution and wage a full coup,” Shimy said of the army. “Things could deteriorate very rapidly from there, either through confrontations on the street, or international sanctions."
 
“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.'”
 
Deadlines
 
The coalition that backed Sunday's protests said there was no question of negotiating now with Morsi on the generals' timetable and it was already formulating positions for discussion directly with the army once the 48 hours are up.
 
In his statement, Sisi insisted that he had the interests of democracy at heart - a still very flawed democracy that Egyptians have been able to practice as a result of the army pushing aside Mubarak in the face of a popular uprising in 2011.
 
That enhanced the already high standing of the army among Egyptians, and the sight of military helicopters streaming national flags over Cairo's Tahrir Square at sunset, after Sisi had laid down the law, sent huge crowds into a frenzy of cheers.
 
Among Morsi's allies are groups with more militant pasts, including al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, a sometime associate of al Qaeda, whose men fought Mubarak's security forces for years and who have warned they would not tolerate renewed military rule.
 
Liberal coalition leaders appointed former U.N. nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei as their negotiator with the army and are pushing for the senior judge on the constitutional court to replace Morsi as head of state for an interim period, while technocrats - and generals - would administer the country.
 
A military source said Sisi was keen not to repeat the experience of the 17 months between Mubarak's fall and Mursi's election, when a committee of generals formed a government that proved unpopular as the economy struggled.
 
The army would prefer a more hands-off approach, supervising government but not running it.
 
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 subsidy regimes and struggling to provide regular supplies of fuel.
 
The Cairo bourse, reopening after a holiday, shot up nearly 5 percent after the army's move.

You May Like

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 02, 2013 11:04 AM
Morsi has failed the country, that is the message. Vowing to leave over his dead body is a bad oath, and many of those who wished it that way have met their fate in its dark side. Morsi came, a product of an uprising that did not give Mubarak a chance, how can he claim more legitimacy than Mubarak who was not given time enough to transit his government? Since a precedence has been set, Morsi must obey the people's demand, as also Mubarak did, seeing the enormity of the population that demand so. Egypt is an old civilization that even the entire Africa does not want to see return to the Stone Age barbarism that Morsi's regime is fostering.

The world in its entirety has grown weary of a fundamentalist religious fanaticism which Morsi, the muslim brotherhood and the terrorist al qaeda-linked extremist militants represent. Morsi failed not only the Egyptians, but also himself, the civilized society and democracy when he betrayed the promise to be president not only to the muslims but to all of Egypt. The only option left for him is to quit. The people of Egypt have been magnanimous enough to live under his repressive regime for so long, hence nothing good has come out of him or his regime.

He should pay some respect to his education in the USA by respecting the wish of the greater majority of the Egyptian people to quit. The time is NOW to do so, hence more than the number of people that voted him into power with the hope of a brighter future, have also decided he should go. SO LET IT BE.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs