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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid