News / Middle East

Egypt Seeks End to Crisis With Quick Elections

Reuters
Egypt's interim rulers issued a faster than expected timetable for elections to try to drag the country out of crisis, a day after 51 people were killed when troops fired on a crowd supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

The streets of Cairo were quiet on Tuesday, but Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement called for more protests later in the day, raising the risk of further violence.

Under pressure to restore democracy quickly, Adli Mansour, the judge named head of state by the army when it brought down Morsi last week, decreed overnight that a parliamentary vote would be held in about six months. That would be followed by a presidential election.

In an important positive signal for the transitional authorities, the ultra-orthodox Islamist Nour Party said it would accept ex-finance minister Samir Radwan as prime minister, potentially paving the way for an interim cabinet.

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi perform weekly Friday prayers at the Rabaa Adawiya square in Cairo where they are camping, July 12, 2013.
  • A supporter of Morsi is doused with water on a hot day in Cairo, July 12, 2013.
  • Supporters of the ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi shout anti-army slogans during a sit-in protest in Cairo July 11, 2013.
  • Morsi Supporters pray after breaking their fast during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, July 11, 2013.
  • An Egyptian boy stands among Morsi supporters who are offering the Tarawih prayer after the evening meal during Ramadan, in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi during a rally in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi joins in a protest at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 10, 2013.
  • A supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi reads the Koran at the Rabaa Adawiya square, Cairo,  July 9, 2013.
  • Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at their camp in Rabaa Adawiy square, Cairo, July 9, 2013. 
  • A supporter of ousted President Mohamed Morsi with a national flag gestures to army soldiers guard at the Republican Guard building in Nasr City, Cairo, July 9, 2013.
  • Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Morsi at Republican Guard headquarters in Nasr City, Cairo, July 8, 2013. 
  • Supporters Morsi carry the body of a fellow supporter killed by violence outside the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
  • Morsi supporters mourn protesters who died during clashes with army soldiers in Cairo, July 8, 2013.
  • Wounded supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi wait for treatment at a field hospital in Cairo, July 8, 2013. 

The stakes were raised dramatically by the bloodshed on Monday, the worst since Morsi was toppled by the military. The army opened fire outside Cairo's Republican Guard barracks where the deposed leader is believed to be held.

The bloodshed also has raised alarm among key donors, such as the United States and the European Union, as well as in Israel, with which Egypt has had a U.S.-backed peace treaty since 1979.

Officials said troops fired in response to an attack by armed assailants. The protesters disputed that account, insisting they were conducting peaceful dawn prayers.

“They shot us with teargas, birdshot, rubber bullets - everything. Then they used live bullets,” said Abdelaziz Abdel Shakua, a bearded 30-year-old who was wounded in his right leg.

Egypt is shocked, tired

The bloodshed shocked Egyptians, already tired of the turbulence that began two and a half years ago with the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising. Many Egyptians seemed to accept the official account, however, that the troops had come under attack and had fired back.

“Of course I condemn this: Egyptian versus Egyptian. But the people attacked the army, not the other way around,” said Abdullah Abdel Rayal, 58, shopping Tuesday in a street market in downtown Cairo.

Winning the support of Nour for a new prime minister would be an important step to show that violence has not derailed the transition. Nour is the main Islamist group apart from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, and the authorities aim to show their transitional arrangement is acceptable to Islamists.

Radwan emerged as favorite to lead a government after Nour rejected Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. diplomat and secularist politician.

A high level delegation from the United Arab Emirates was  due to arrive in Egypt, signaling vital regional support for the military-led transitional rulers and potentially bringing a lifeline of billions of dollars in desperately-needed aid.

Republican Guard Headquarters, Cairo, EgyptRepublican Guard Headquarters, Cairo, Egypt
x
Republican Guard Headquarters, Cairo, Egypt
Republican Guard Headquarters, Cairo, Egypt
Chaos harms tourism, investment

With turmoil driving away foreign investors and tourists, Egypt is running dangerously short of cash to provide the subsidized bread and fuel upon which its 84 million people rely.

Egyptian newspapers, mainly controlled by the state or by Morsi's opponents, described Monday's violence as the result of terrorism by Morsi's supporters.

Millions of people took to the streets on June 30 to demand Morsi's resignation, fearing he was orchestrating a creeping Islamist takeover of the state.

To the Brotherhood, his removal amounted to the reversal of democracy a year after he became Egypt's first freely elected leader. Islamists fear a return to the suppression they endured for decades under autocratic rulers like Mubarak.

Protesters said Monday's shooting started as they performed morning prayers outside the barracks. Military spokesman Ahmed Ali said that at 4 a.m. [0200 GMT] armed men attacked troops in the area in the northeast of the city. Emergency services said in addition to the dead, 435 people were wounded.

At a hospital near Cairo's Rabaa Adawiya mosque, where many of the wounded and dead were taken, rooms were crammed full, sheets were stained with blood.

On Friday, clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi supporters  had swept across Egyptian cities, killing 35 people.

Mansour decreed that Egypt will hold new parliamentary elections once amendments to its suspended constitution are approved in a referendum.

The Egyptian Military's Roadmap

  • Temporary suspension of the constitution
  • Interim civilian government headed by Adly Mansour
  • Early presidential and parliamentary elections
  • Formation of a national reconciliation committee
  • Implementation of a media code of ethics
Extending an olive branch

In what appeared to be a peace overture to Islamists, the decree included controversial language put into the constitution last year that defined the principles of Islamic sharia law.

Whether that will be enough to lure back Nour, which had supported the military-led transition, but pulled out of the talks after Monday's attack, remains to be seen.

Egypt's main share index rose after Nour said it would accept Radwan as prime minister.

Nour spokesman Nader Bakkar said Radwan met its conditions: “We asked for a technocrat economist... a neutral guy.”

Nathan Brown, a leading expert on Egypt's constitution at George Washington University in Washington, said that while the overnight decree laid out a clear sequence for transition, it repeated some mistakes made two years ago, after Mubarak.

“It was drawn up by an anonymous committee; it was issued by executive fiat; the timetable is rushed; the provisions for consultation are vague; and it promises inclusiveness but gives no clear procedural guidelines for it,” he said.

Although Tuesday was comparatively quiet, there were minor incidents reported by late morning. Gunmen fired on a church in Port Said at the mouth of the Suez Canal overnight. Two people were wounded, medical sources said.

The Brotherhood movement has refused to have anything to do with the process, and thousands of supporters have camped out in northeast Cairo for the last five days and vowed not to budge until Morsi returns as president - a seemingly vain hope.

Welcome windfall?

The arrival of a senior UAE delegation, led by Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, could signal a welcome windfall.

The UAE - long skeptical of the Brotherhood - had pledged billions in aid to Egypt after the fall of Mubarak, but held the money back during Morsi's year in power. Saudi Arabia could also send much-needed cash and fuel.

The West has had a harder time formulating a public response, after years of pushing Arab leaders towards democracy while at the same time nervous about the Brotherhood's rise. Demonstrators on both sides in Egypt have chanted anti-American slogans, accusing Washington of backing their enemies.

Washington has refrained from calling the military intervention a “coup” - a label that under U.S. law would require it to halt aid. It called on Egypt's army to exercise “maximum restraint” but has said it is not about to halt funding for Egypt, including the $1.3 billion it gives the military.

The army has insisted that the overthrow was not a coup and that it was enforcing the “will of the people” after millions took to the streets on June 30 to call for Morsi's resignation.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid