Mursi booted out: Coup in Egypt
CAIRO: Egypt’s armed forces overthrew elected President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday and announced a political transition with the support of a wide range of political, religious and youth leaders.
After a day of drama in which tanks and troops deployed near the presidential palace as a military deadline for President Mursi to yield to mass protests passed, the top army commander announced on television that the president had “failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people”.
Flanked by political and religious leaders and top generals, General Abdel Fattah al Sisi announced the suspension of the constitution drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood, to which President Mursi belongs, and a roadmap for a return to democratic rule under a revised rulebook.
The president of the supreme constitutional court will act as interim head of state, assisted by an interim council and a technocratic government, until new presidential and parliamentary elections are held.
“Those in the meeting have agreed on a roadmap for the future that includes initial steps to achieve the building of a strong Egyptian society that is cohesive and does not exclude anyone and ends the state of tension and division,” General Sisi said in a solemn address broadcast live on state television.
After he spoke, hundreds of thousands of anti-Mursi protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square erupted into wild cheering, setting off fireworks and waving flags. Cars drove around the capital honking their horns in celebration.
But a statement published in President Mursi’s name on his official Facebook page after General Sisi’s speech said the measures announced amounted to “a full military coup” and were “totally rejected”.
The Muslim Brotherhood president, in office for just a year, was at a Republican Guard barracks surrounded by barbed wire, barriers and troops, but it was not clear whether he was under arrest. The state newspaper Al-Ahram said the military had told President Mursi at 7:00pm that he was no longer head of state.
Military chiefs, vowing to restore order in a country racked by protests over President Mursi’s policies, earlier issued a call to battle in a statement headlined ‘The Final Hours’. They said they were willing to shed blood against ‘terrorists and fools’.
Armoured vehicles took up position outside the state broadcasting headquarters on the Nile River bank, where soldiers patrolled the corridors and non-essential staff was sent home.
Security sources said the ousted president and the entire senior leadership of his Muslim Brotherhood were banned from leaving the country. They added that the authorities had sent a list of at least 40 leading members of the Brotherhood to airport police.
In a last-ditch statement a few minutes before the deadline, President Mursi’s office said a coalition government could be part of a solution to overcome the political crisis. But opposition parties refused to negotiate with him and met instead with General Sisi.
Earlier, his spokesman said it was better that he die in defence of democracy than be blamed by history.
“It is better for a president, who would otherwise be returning Egypt to the days of dictatorship, from which God and the will of the people has saved us, to die standing like a tree,” spokesman Ayman Ali said, “Rather than be condemned by history and future generations for throwing away the hopes of Egyptians for establishing a democratic life.”
Muslim, Christian leaders back transition Egypt’s leading Muslim and Christian clerics backed the army-sponsored roadmap and called for early presidential and parliamentary elections.
Ahmed al Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Cairo’s ancient seat of Muslim learning, and Pope Tawadros, the head of the Coptic Church, made brief statements following an announcement by General Sisi that deposed President Mursi.
Tawadros said the plan offered a political vision and would ensure security for all Egyptians, about 10% of whom are Christian.
Egyptian liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said that the Arab Spring revolution of 2011 had been re launched by the announcement of the roadmap which removed the president.