It was an amazing few days in Egypt. The largest protests in the nation’s history have resulted in the removal of President Mohamed Morsi from power, the appointment of Judge Adly Mansour as the temporary president and move to new elections and a new constitution. Judge Mansour will be sworn in on Thursday. People are confused as to whether this is a military coup or whether the military served as a facilitator of the protesters in the streets. Some see this as the US silently working behind the scenes with the military to remove the Muslim Brotherhood. Others see this as a second phase of the January 2011 revolution that was interrupted by co-option and manipulation. Time will clarify what has happened today. Below are some highlights of the days events from various sources.
Here’s a brief summary of where things stand from the Guardian:
• The Egyptian army deposed President Mohamed Morsi after four days of sustained giant street protests that eclipsed even the rallies that brought down Hosni Mubarak. Morsi became the second Egyptian leader to be kicked out of power in 28 months.
• General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the change in government in a televised address joined by influential leaders of opposition parties and religious groups. Among those who spoke after Sisi were opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, the sheikh of Al-Azhar mosque and the Coptic pope. Leaders of the Islamist Nour party also joined the announcement.
• Sisi said the head of Egypt’s supreme constitutional court, Adly Mansour, 68, would take over the presidential palace, the constitution would be suspended and new presidential elections would be held. Mansour was to be sworn in Thursday.
• Morsi reacted defiantly to the Sisi announcement, which he called a “full coup.” He communicated via Facebook, a Youtube video that was unpublished and a prerecorded audio track broadcast to rallies supporting him. He had not been seen in public Wednesday. Morsi insisted he is Egypt’s only legitimate president but warned against bloodshed.
• The Egyptian street reacted jubilantly. Scenes like this look unreal but are only slightly more spectacular than many scenes from recent days:
But, Ian Black, the Middle East editor of the Guardian warned: “Egypt has entered a volatile and potentially dangerous new phase with the army moving swiftly and decisively against President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to take control – though only temporarily – of the Arab world’s largest country. . . . Morsi, a Brotherhood veteran, was narrowly elected in a poll that was considered to be free and fair, and famously pledged to rule “for all Egyptians”. Non-Islamists voted for him on the grounds that he was still preferable to the old regime “fulool” candidate. But opponents complained almost from the start that he had not governed democratically or effectively but been autocratic and incompetent – and betrayed a revolution in which the Brotherhood did not play a leading role. . . Morsi’s overthrow is a hammer blow for Egyptian Islamists who spent the long decades of authoritarian rule under Mubarak and his predecessors building up the Brotherhood organisation and dreaming of the day when they could take power. The worry must be that this experience will reinforce their sense of victimhood – that despite winning a free election they have been betrayed and prevented from exercising legitimate power. It clearly creates a dangerous precedent.
Al Jazerra reports that “In a televised broadcast, flanked by military leaders, religious authorities and political figures, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi effectively declared the removal of Morsi.” Further “Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth movements. He said the roadmap had been agreed by a range of political groups.”
After General Sisi spoke a series of representatives from religious groups, opposition parties and civil society spoke in support of the plan to get Egypt out of this crisis and on the track toward a real democracy. The first to speak after Sisis was the sheikh of Al-Azhar mosque. He says he supports the step the army has taken and calls on Egyptians to mend their differences.
Also speaking was the organizer of the rebel movement Tamarod, whose called the demonstrations drew millions into the streets on June 3oth. Tamarod’s founder, Mahmoud Badr, said we don’t want to excludeanyone.” Later he tweeted: #tamarrod ”Thanks to the great EGYPTIAN NATION.”
The Nour party, Egypt’s second-largest Islamist organization, which opposed the Muslim Brotherhood in the post-January 25 period. The party has declared its support for the political transition.
Also speaking at the press conference was the Coptic pope Tawadros has also spoken. “We have all gathered under the Egyptian flag,” he says, supporting the army’s move.
And, Mohamed El-Baradei, the former presidential candidate and opposition leader. He says the transition period will move toward new elections. He calls for “social justice for every single Egyptian.” He says the Egyptian street has paid a high price for a hopeful political future. He said the “2011 revolution was re-launched” and that the roadmap meets the demand of the protesters.
Al Jazeera reports “Egypt’s leading Muslim and Christian clerics also backed the army-sponsored roadmap. Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Cairo’s ancient seat of Muslim learning, and Pope Tawadros, the head of the Coptic Church, both made brief statements following the announcement by the head of the armed forces. Tawadros said the plan offered a political vision and would ensure security for all Egyptians, about 10 percent of whom are Christian. Egypt’s second largest Islamist group, the Nour party, said in a statement that it agreed to the army roadmap in order to avoid further conflict.”
Reuters summarizes the main points in the roadmap:
* The temporary suspension of the constitution.* Format of a committee including all sections of society and experts to review proposed amendments to the constitution.
* The head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, will be sworn in as the state’s new interim ruler.
* Early presidential elections, with the head of the constitutional court managing the affairs of the country during the interim period, until a new president is elected.
* The head of the constitutional court will have powers to issue constitutional decrees during the interim period.
* The formation of a national technocrat government that will enjoy full powers to manage the transition period.
* Implementation of a media code of ethics to ensure freedom of the media.
* Executive measures to be taken to enable young people to be involved in the institutions of the state.
* Constitutional court urged to quickly approve the draft parliamentary election law and start preparing for parliamentary elections.
* Formation of a national reconciliation committee
* Egyptian people urged to stay peaceful in protests.
There were reports that television stations that supported Morsi were taken off the air after General Sisi’s address, there are reports of arrests of some media crews. Al-Masri al-youm reports that the owners of TV stations have been detained.
Senator Patrick Leahy warned that if this is a military coup then US support to the military could be cut: “Egypt’s military leaders say they have no intent or desire to govern, and I hope they make good on their promise. In the meantime, our law is clear: U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree. As we work on the new budget, my committee also will review future aid to the Egyptian government as we wait for a clearer picture. As the world’s oldest democracy, this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to the principle that transfers of power should be by the ballot, not by force of arms.”
Reuters reports that ”Syrian President Bashar al-Assad . . . said on Wednesday the upheaval in Egypt was a defeat for political Islam. ‘Whoever brings religion to use in politics or in favor of one group at the expense of another will fall anywhere in the world,’ Assad was quoted as telling the official Thawra newspaper, according to an official Facebook page. ‘The summary of what is happening in Egypt is the fall of what is called political Islam.’”
When the announcement was made Tahrir Square erupted in celebration. People flooded the street and the square was filled with thousands of Egyptian flags.
Morsi continues to be calling for defiance of the army through whatever channel he can. There has been a Facebook post and a briefly published YouTube video in which Morsi was quoted as saying the army’s moves “represent a full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation.”
Journalist Mosa’ab Elshamy has been at the pro-Morsi rally at Raba’a el Adaweya Mosque, where he is live-tweeting a recorded Morsi audio message: “Morsi delivering a recorded speech to MB sit-in. Claims he’s still president, orders army & military to protect the people and legitimacy. Morsi:’I am still the president.” Massive roar among his crowd. People’s will can not be overlooked a year later. This is selective democracy. We’re facing a historic challenge. Do not fall for calls of bloodshed. We’ll all regret it.’ ”
Al Ahram reports that 300 Muslim Brotherhood figures have been arrested and that the army plans to clear a pro-Morsi rally at Cairo University in the Giza neighborhood. Associated Press reported that Egyptian officials say head of Brotherhood’s political party and group’s deputy chief are arrested.
According to Reuters, five are dead in Egypt as Morsi opponents and supporters clash (1 in Alexandria, 4 in Marsa Matrouh)