AFTER days of mass demonstrations, Egypt’s military finally ousted Mohamed Morsy on Wednesday, the country’s first democratically elected president, in the country’s second revolution in two years.
Morsy, a Western-educated Islamist aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, had rejected an ultimatum delivered by the military to resolve the crisis within 48 hours, creating a stand-off with the military, the most powerful institution in the country.
In a televised speech to the nation, Egypt’s top military officer, General Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, said Morsy “did not achieve the goals of the people” during his single year in office.
Who runs Egypt now?
El-Sisi said Adly Mansour, head of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court, has replaced Morsy as interim president and Mansour was sworn in yesterday.
The road map announced by El-Sisi also includes suspending and rewriting the constitution introduced after former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, and holding new parliamentary and presidential elections at a later, unspecified date.
Who is Adly Mansour?
The 67-year-old judge only became the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Monday, and was named as the country’s new interim president just two days later. He was appointed vice president of the court in 1992, serving during Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule. Mansour could serve between nine to 12 months in an interim role.
How have the Egyptians reacted?
The news has been met with jubilation and fireworks in Tahrir Square in central Cairo, where hundreds of thousands had turned out in recent days demanding Morsy leave office.
Their complaints ranged from concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic agenda being brought to bear on the nation’s laws, to frustration with his government’s failure to address high unemployment, crime and living costs.
But Morsy, who was elected as president with 52% of the vote last year, retains a substantial support base, which has congregated at rallies in places like Nasr City in Cairo. The pro-Morsy camp decried the army’s move as an illegitimate coup and refused to accept its validity, while Morsy himself has declared that he is still president.
As news of the coup broke, clashes were reported throughout the country, with at least eight killed and 340 wounded. Political violence had rocked the country in the days leading up to the military takeover.
How Muslim Brotherhood is treated?
The deposed president was arrested by presidential guards at their headquarters, and is being held under house arrest and “basically cut (off) from the world,” Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said. “They cut all his access, all his calls. No one is meeting him,” he said.
According to reports, the military has also begun rounding up members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the long-repressed political movement that propelled the deposed president to office. State-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were being sought by police.
Arabic satellite network Al Jazeera reported its Cairo studios were raided during a live broadcast and its presenter, guests and producers detained, after broadcasting a taped statement from Morsy.
How is Morsy’s base likely to respond?
Morsy has called for dialogue and appealed to his supporters to demonstrate peacefully, but observers fear the army’s actions could trigger a violent response.
Wedeman said there was a danger that some members of the Muslim Brotherhood would become disenfranchised and “challenge (Egypt’s new leaders) with violence.
They may take the attitude of ‘we tried to play the game, our leaders were jailed, our media have been shut down … so we’re going to destroy the system,’” he said. He felt the mood appeared more volatile than after Mubarak’s ouster in 2011.
“There’s not going to be that quiet after the storm this time around,” he said.
Mohammed Ayoob, Michigan State University professor emeritus of international relations, warns of a potential extremist backlash to the coup.
“The major lesson that Islamists in the Middle East are likely to learn from this episode is that they will not be allowed to exercise power no matter how many compromises they make in both the domestic and foreign policy arenas.”
He added: “This is likely to push a substantial portion of mainstream Islamists into the arms of the extremists who reject democracy and ideological compromise.”
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman El-Haddad reiterated his movement’s commitment to non-violence, but hinted at the frustrations felt by his camp. “At the end of the day, we are committed to democracy and to peaceful change of power. But if the road to democracy every time … gets derailed … what other option are the people left with?”
US President Barack Obama has expressed his country’s “deep concern” over the toppling of a democratically elected leader and the suspension of the constitution, and said he would instruct officials to review aid contributions to Egypt as a result.
Obama’s statement was telling in that he did not use the word “coup”, and in that he called on the Egyptian military to restore power to “a democratically elected civilian government” –– but not explicitly Morsy’s.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called for a quick return to civilian rule, appealing for “calm, non-violence, dialogue and restraint”.
By contrast, Saudi Arabia and the UAE both issued statements congratulating the Egyptian military for their actions.