Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has been overthrown today after he failed to meet demands from protesters and the military that he resign. Morsi was elected on January 30, 2012 in the wake of the 2011 revolution that saw dictator Hosni Mubarak deposed. Protestors have recently taken to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with Egypt’s faltering economy, fuel shortages, and soaring crime rates.
One large faction of the protest movement, Tamarod, has collected 22 million signatures since its formation in April, from protestors demanding that Morsi step down and call for early presidential elections. Tamarod gave Morsi until 5:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, July 2, to step down or face “complete civil disobedience.”
On Monday, as thousands of protestors filled the streets of Cairo and Tahrir Square, the Egyptian military sided with the protestors to issue an ultimatum – reach an agreement to share power with leaders of the opposition and come up with a plan to calm the nation’s civil unrest, or be deposed. They gave a deadline of 4:30 p.m. local time, Wednesday, July 3. The resignation of six government ministers on Monday, as well as the resignation of the spokesmen for the cabinet and the presidency on Tuesday, put additional pressure on Morsi to resign.
Morsi held firm, insisting that his presidency was legitimate. “If the price for safeguarding legitimacy is my blood, then I am prepared to sacrifice my blood for the cause of safety and legitimacy of this homeland,” he said in a national address broadcast on Tuesday.
Despite calls for peaceful protest from all sides, at least 23 people have been killed and hundreds injured at a pro-Morsi demonstration at Cairo University Tuesday night.
As the deadline approached, Morsi extended an offer to create an interim coalition government to “manage the upcoming parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament.” Opposition leaders ignored this offer in favor of meeting with the leader of the armed forces.
When Morsi failed to step down before the Wednesday deadline, Egyptian military forces surrounded a pro-Morsi demonstration at a mosque in a Cairo suburb, and began taking key points in the city. Troops barricaded Morsi inside a Republican Guard complex where he had been working. He and all senior members of the Muslin Brotherhood have been placed under a travel ban; they will not be allowed to leave the country.
As Egyptian military leader General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared the removal of Morsi from power, opposition leaders denied that what was happening was a coup. Naguib Abadeer, leader of the opposition party Free Egyptians Party, called Morsi’s overthrow “a revolution” rather than a military coup and told CNN, “The people have decided that Mr. Morsi was no longer the legitimate leader of Egypt.”
Military spokesman Col. Ahmed Ali released a written statement Monday that appears to clarify the military’s intentions. According to the statement, the goal of giving the ultimatum was to facilitate a consensus between the many factions currently jostling for power in Egypt, and not to bring about a military coup or put nation permanently under military rule.
Military leaders have suspended Egypt’s constitution and dissolved parliament. They have told the Arab media that they plan to establish a civilian interim council. A new constitution will be written and new presidential elections will be held, say military leaders.
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