The Egyptian Army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi late on Wednesday, replacing him with chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court as interim president. The move came after Morsi failed to respond to a 48-hour deadline set by the military for the president to resolve the ongoing crisis.
In a televised address to the nation, Army Chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced the removal of Morsi from power, and suspension of the country's recently adopted Islamist-backed constitution.
Gen. Sissi indicated the chief justice of the constitutional court would be the president only until early presidential and parliamentary elections are held. The army chief said a government comprising technocrats will be appointed to run the country during the transition period, but did not indicate when the elections would be held.
Gen Sisi, who was flanked by religious and opposition leaders, defended the military action to oust the Morsi, stating that it was inevitable as he had "failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people."
Soon after Gen. Sissi made his remarks, opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei in a short speech said the new army-backed roadmap for Egypt's future aimed at national reconciliation represented a fresh start to the January 2011 revolution. Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar -- Cairo's ancient seat of Muslim learning and Pope Tawadros, the head of the Coptic Church, also made brief statements backing the military move.
Egypt has been in the throes of massive anti-Morsi demonstrations in various cities in recent days, with protesters calling for the resignation of the president. It is estimated that at least 39 people have died and scores of others injured after the protests began last Sunday.
The country has been on the edge ever since the deadline set by the army expired on Wednesday evening without any agreements. In the ultimatum issued Monday, the army had given Morsi 48 hours to resolve the political crisis or have the military impose its own "roadmap" for Egypt's future.
Morsi largely ignored the ultimatum and rejected the demand for his resignation outright, insisting that he is willing to give his life to defend constitutional legitimacy. Nevertheless, the embattled president had proposed a "consensus coalition government" later Wednesday in an attempt to defuse the tension.
After the deadline expired Wednesday evening, the army deployed hundreds of troops as well as dozens of armored vehicles in capital Cairo. The military also imposed an international travel ban on Morsi and other senior members of his Muslim Brotherhood party. Incidentally, Mori's current whereabouts are unknown.
Sisi and other senior military leaders had held talks with the country's political and religious leaders earlier in the day to discuss the crisis, even as Morsi's party stayed away from the talks. Later in the day, Sisi held separate talks with his commanders.
Morsi's opponents accuse him of being autocratic since taking office, and his parent Muslim Brotherhood party of pushing through a disputed Constitution that favors Islamists and fails to protect the rights of women and the country's minority Christian community. They also accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of betraying the 2011 revolution by attempting to monopolize power.
Morsi is the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) — the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was sworn in as Egypt's first civilian and freely-elected President in June 2012, following the ouster of the autocratic regime of former President Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 revolution.
by RTT Staff Writer
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