Egypt Update: President Morsi Overthrown, Interim President NamedJuly 3, 2013 in Egypt
After four days of protest, beginning on June 30, the one year anniversary of the Egyptian President’s election, Mohamed Morsi has been removed from office.
On Monday, the Egyptian Army issued a 48 hour ultimatum, urging Morsi to work with members of other parties to create a roadmap to meet the desires of the masses. As the 24 hour mark passed, Morsi issued a televised and passionate statement that he would not leave, and would fight for the legitimacy of his democratically elected office. He also asked the military to repeal the 48 hour ultimatum, to no avail.
As the deadline passed, military forces were deployed to areas containing high concentrations of Pro- and Anti-Morsi protesters. Head of the Egyptian Army, General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, appeared in a televised statement, flanked by Muslim, Coptic Christian, political and military leaders. Al-Sisi announced that the chief justice of constitutional court, Adli Mansour, would take the powers of the presidency.
The announcement effectively removed former President Mohammed Morsi from power.
In addition to the removal of Morsi, General Al-Sisi has announced a suspension of the highly contested constitution, and called for early elections, which will require the court to create a draft law for the forthcoming process. Al-Sisi also called upon the court to address a draft law for ethics which would include freedom of expression and media, regardless of political party. Finally, Al-Sisi urged peaceful demonstrations and avoidance of violence.
Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square gave out a huge cheer in response to the speech. Fireworks erupted in Anti-Morsi camps throughout Cairo, as Army helicopters circled Tahrir Square, throwing Egyptian flags to the crowd. The protests drew over 33 million people, the largest in world history.
Pro-Morsi gatherers have given an oath to uphold democracy and continue to support Morsi. Following the speech, the Muslim Brotherhood television station went off the air, and a post on Morsi’s Facebook page denounced the army move as a military coup. Morsi’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Egypt’s Prime Minister, Hisham Qandil, was sentenced to one year in prison for failing to uphold a court order to reinstate employees at Tanta Flax and Oil Company and for annulling the company’s sale to a Saudi businessman.
Following General Al-Sisi’s address, Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Church, and Mohammed ElBaradei, a key leader of the opposition parties, made short statements. ElBaradei called the army’s roadmap a fresh start to the January 2011 revolution.
In the coming days, arguments will surround whether the Army’s action constituted a coup d’etat. The Army claims to have acted on the will of the people, particularly the 22 million signatures on the “Tamarod” petition, which demanded Morsi’s removal. The military will not take over political responsibility, rather have handed it over to the high courts. However, because it is a military action, the title of “coup d’etat” could strain relations with international partners, such as America, which will not provide economic assistance to nations where power is transitioned through military force.
Adli Mansour will be sworn in as the interim president on Thursday.