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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid