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Constitutional court president to act as army removes Egypt president

The new interim head will be assisted by an interim council and a technocratic government until new presidential and parliamentary elections are held. After a…

The new interim head will be assisted by an interim council and a technocratic government until new presidential and parliamentary elections are held.

After a day of drama in which tanks and troops deployed near the presidential palace as a military deadline for 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 Islamist-tinged constitution and a roadmap for a return to democratic rule under a revised rulebook.
“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,” Sisi said in a solemn address broadcast live on state television.
Jubilations greet announcement
After he spoke, hundreds of thousands of anti-Mursi protesters in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square erupted into wild cheering, setting off fireworks and waving flags. Cars drove around the capital honking their horns in celebration.
The Arab world’s most populous nation has been in turmoil since the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak as Arab Spring uprisings took hold in early 2011, arousing concern among allies in the West and in Israel, with which Egypt has a 1979 peace treaty.
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 Mursi at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) that he was no longer head of state. Military chiefs, vowing to restore order in a country racked by protests over Mursi’s Islamist 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”.
Show of force
Armoured vehicles took up positions outside the state broadcasting headquarters on the Nile River bank, where soldiers patrolled the corridors and non-essential staff were sent home.
In another show of force, several hundred soldiers with armoured vehicles staged a parade near the presidential palace, and security sources said Mursi and the entire senior leadership of his Muslim Brotherhood were banned from leaving the country.
Security sources told Reuters the authorities had sent a list of at least 40 leading members of the Brotherhood to airport police.
Mursi’s last stand
In a last-ditch statement a few minutes before the deadline, 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 the commander of the armed forces.
Earlier, Mursi’s 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.” Liberal opponents said a rambling late-night television address by Mursi showed he had “lost his mind”.
The official spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood said supporters were willing to become martyrs to defend Mursi.
“There is only one thing we can do: we will stand in between the tanks and the president,” Gehad El-Haddad told Reuters at the movement’s protest encampment in a Cairo suburb that houses many military installations and is near the presidential palace.
The Brotherhood’s Egypt25 television station had broadcast live coverage of a rally of tens of thousands of Mursi supporters, even as the army moved tanks into position to prevent them from marching on the presidential palace or the Republican Guard barracks.
Economic implications
U.S. oil prices rose to a 14-month high above $100 a barrel partly on fears that unrest in Egypt could destabilize the Middle East and lead to supply disruption. The massive anti-Mursi protests showed that the Brotherhood had not only alienated liberals and secularists by seeking to entrench Islamic rule, notably in a new constitution, but had also angered millions of Egyptians with economic mismanagement. Tourism and investment have dried up, inflation is rampant and fuel supplies are running short, with power cuts lengthening in the summer heat and motorists spending hours fuelling cars.
Reactions
The country’s two main religious leaders, the head of the Al-Azhar Islamic institute and the Coptic Pope, both expressed their support for the army’s roadmap in speeches after Sisi, as did the main liberal opposition leader, Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei.
After Gen Sisi’s address, both Pope Tawadros II – the head of the Coptic Church – and leading opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei made short statements. Mr ElBaradei said the new roadmap aimed for national reconciliation and represented a fresh start to the January 2011 revolution.
US response
Two U.S. officials said Egyptian defence leaders, who ousted the president, have assured the U.S. that they are not interested in a long-term rule. They said the leaders, in calls with Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pledged to put a civilian government in place quickly. US officials also said the Egyptian military has said it will take steps to ensure the safety of Americans in Egypt, including the diplomatic mission. White House official told CNN that Obama was briefed on the situation in Egypt yesterday by his national security staff. On Tuesday, Obama called on Morsy to hold early elections, a senior administration official said. “We are saying to him, ‘Figure out a way to go for new elections,’” the official said. “That may be the only way that this confrontation can be resolved.” A State Department spokeswoman, however, denied that Obama urged early elections.
Morsi’s response
Meanwhile, a statement on the Egyptian president’s office’s Twitter account has quoted Mohammed Mursi as calling military measures ‘a full coup’.
The Egyptian president’s national security adviser had warned earlier yesterday that a military coup was underway and there would be ‘considerable bloodshed’ as millions of thousands of people took to the streets. With troops and tanks taking up positions in keys part of major Egyptian cities and tensions high, there were unconfirmed reports that President Mohammed Morsi was under house arrest after the deadline set by the army for him to reach an agreement with opposition protestors expired. His security adviser Essam El-Haddad said Mr Morsi was calling for peaceful resistance to the army’s ‘unlawful’ move against the democratically elected leader but stressed his supporters should not use violence.
However, he added : ‘In this day and age no military coup can succeed in the face of sizeable popular force without considerable bloodshed.
‘There are still people in Egypt who believe in their right to make a democratic choice. Hundreds of thousands of them have gathered in support of democracy and the presidency. And they will not leave in the face of this attack. To move them, there will have to be violence.’
Deaths
Nearly 40 people have died so far since the unprecedented protests began in Sunday and last night there were reports of bloody clashes between Islamist supporters of Mr Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood and troops in the capital Cairo. With millions of anti-Mursi protestors on the streets of dozens of cities and towns celebrating in the belief the military is on their side and facing the president’s supporters, there were fears the death toll would rise significantly.
 Professor Jonah Isawa Elaigwu, President, Institute of Governance and Social Research (IGSR), Jos.
Since the overthrow of the monarchy the army has been powerful in Egypt. The Egyptian revolution is an unfinished revolution and seems to be gestating. The lesson from this development is that we must realise that the military is part of the society and has interest in the society. In a place like Egypt, it is impossible to see them outside of government. It sees itself as the soul of the society. If Mursi had accommodated the wide spectrum of the opposition it would have been possible for him to stabilise the society.
Ambassador Sulaiman Dahiru, Former Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations
When the armed forces gave the ultimatum, everyone knew a coup was in the offing, but they don’t want the outside world to see it as a coup. Moursi has become history, even if there is going to be an election he cannot come back to rule Egypt again. There is always this problem whereby people from nowhere become presidents even when they are not prepared for it. You find that such people don’t know what to do with it, like Mursi. It is just impossible for the Muslim Brotherhood to come back to power again. If you are talking of a democracy, that was autocratic. Do you call that democracy? What the Egyptians got was not really democracy. They got rid of Mubarak and the monarchy but it was military rule replaced by a civilian administration, not democracy as such. There is a difference between democracy as is known in political science and it was completely lacking. It was unfortunate but we saw it coming. Mursi did not appear like a leader, he doesn’t inspire confidence, he may be well educated but not charismatic.       

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