Egypt Update: Monsour Sworn in as Interim PresidentJuly 4, 2013 in Egypt
On 4 July, head of the Egyptian High Constitutional Court (HCC), Adli Monsour, has taken the oath of office as Egypt’s Interim president, following yesterday’s overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi. Immediately following his swearing in, Monsour gave his first speech to the people of Egypt, thanking the youth for leading the charge to gain back the 2011 revolution. “I look forward to parliamentary and presidential elections held with the genuine and authentic will of the people. The youth had the initiative and the noblest thing about this glorious event is that it was an expression of the nation’s conscience and an embodiment of its hopes and ambitions. It was never a movement seeking to realise special demands or personal interests.”
Monsour, who had been deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court from 1992, had been chosen by President Morsi to be the leader of the Supreme Constitutional Court upon the retirement of its former leader, effective 30 June.
He had been in office only two days when the army named him leader of Egypt
Monsour is a 67-year-old father of three, French educated at the Ecole Nationale de l’Administration. He was a long-serving judge under the former president Hosni Mubarak, serving in state sponsored religious courts as well as civil and criminal courts. Monsour helped to draft the supervision law for the presidential elections that brought Morsi to power in 2012, which included setting a legal timeframe for electoral campaigning.
As the swearing in proceeded, dozens of Mohamed Morsi-supporters protested outside the High Constitutional Court. Security forces formed a barricade to prevent clashes with celebrating citizens, and arm tanks and soldiers surrounded the HCC.
Following the swearing in, several ministers from Egypt’s Cabinet who belonged to the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Muslim Brotherhood presented their resignations in protest. These include the Ministers of Local Administration, Youth, Labour Force, Investment, Supply, Planning and International Cooperation, Education, Information, and Transportation. Declining an offer by Interim President Monsour to work on developing a unified government, Sheikh Abdel Rahman El-Bar, a member of the Brotherhood’s executive board, stated that the group will not work with “the usurper authorities.
In Damanhour and Beni Suef, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters held rallies against what they are calling “a coup against legitimacy,” holding photos of Morsi and chanting, “Down with military rule.” Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement Wednesday announcing their refusal of the former president’s removal, calling the military’s move a “coup d’etat.”In Beni Suef, reports say that protesters have stormed and are currently occupying the governorate building.
In a press conference on Thursday, The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, an umbrella group for several Islamist parties, has issued a call for “peaceful protests on Friday in all of Egypt’s provinces to denounce the military coup against legitimacy and in support of the legitimacy of President Morsi.” The statement was echoed on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website, Ikhwanweb.
Egyptian Army’s Overnight Actions
In the early hours of July 4, several hundred arrest warrants were issued for Muslim Brotherhood figures who were accused of inciting violence or posing a threat to national security. Among those arrested were the Muslim Brotherhood’s former Supreme Guide Mahdi Akef, and the group’s current Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie. Badie was arrested for the murder of eight protestors in Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border. The army has taken them to Tora Prison on the outskirts of Cairo, where ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his sons are detained.
Security forces also stormed Al Jazeera’s Egyptian offices, arresting five employees for reportedly showing “only pro-Morsi” demonstrations. Several other stations were also taken off the air, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist networks in al-Nass, al-Hifaz and al-Amjaad. The Army states that it is a precautionary measure to prevent the media from inciting violence. It is unknown if or when they will resume broadcasting.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s legislative chamber, the Shura council, has been dissolved due to suspension of the constitution, and will not reconvene until a new constitution is drawn. In June, the council’s election was ruled unconstitutional by the HCC, but was granted immunity from dissolution by the now suspended constitution. The lower council was dissolved earlier in the year by a separate court ruling. Following the draft of the new constitution, new presidential and parliamentary elections will then take place. A timeline is yet to be determined.
Hope for Egypt
Despite these setbacks, Egyptians are in high spirits at the prospects of rebuilding the nation. Protesters celebrated into the night, with fireworks and cheers. In the morning, Egypt’s main stock exchange index, the EGX30, which had been in decline for a month, rose by 7.3 percent, cutting year-to-date losses to just 2.3 percent as the market reacted to the ousting of Morsi from power. Egyptian investors, relieved by the removal of Morsi, purchased a net LE140.3 million worth of stocks, and total turnover reached a relatively high LE459 million. Egypt saw a market capital gain of LE20 billion in the first hours of trading.
There has been mixed reaction to the events in Egypt. In the Middle East, formal congratulations came from Saudi Arabia; however, leaders in Qatar, a supporter of Islamists in the Arab uprisings, sent a more muted statement, saying they would “respect the wishes of the Egyptian people.” Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad called Morsi’s ouster the “fall of political Islam”, and said, “Syria’s people and leadership and army express their deep appreciation for the national, populist movement in Egypt which has yielded a great achievement.”
Rached Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia’s ruling Islamist an-Nahda party, called the removal “a flagrant coup against democratic legitimacy,” and Turkey has lamented the loss of a valuably ally, calling it “unacceptable.” Iran called for respecting the legitimate demands of the people, but warned of “foreign and enemy opportunism”.
In the African Union, an unidentified senior source has stated that the group is likely to suspend Egypt from all its activities following Morsi’s removal from office. Members of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council will meet on Friday, and may implement the AU’s response, which is suspension for any country where an unconstitutional change has taken place.
Western foreign governments are still working through semantics to determine whether Morsi’s removal was a coup, or a military intervention. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague criticized military intervention but called it a popular move, urging fast and inclusive transition: “We have to recognise the enormous dissatisfaction in Egypt with what the president had done and the conduct of the government over the past year.” The United States is considering using the annual $1.3 billion aid package as encouragement for civilian