‘Egypt’s revolution is back on track’

Egyptian liberal opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei said yesterday that the Arab Spring revolution of 2011 had been relaunched by the announcement of an army-sponsored roadmap which removed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

He said the road map met demands for early presidential elections as called for by the liberal coalition. The head of Egypt’s supreme constitutional court, Adli Mansour, will be sworn in as interim head of state today, military and judicial sources said.

After the televised announcement by the army chief Lt Gen Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, millions of anti-Morsi protesters in cities around the country erupted in delirious scenes of joy, with shouts of “God is great” and “Long live Egypt.”

The constitution, drafted by Morsi’s Islamist allies, was “temporarily suspended,” and a panel of experts and representatives of all political movements will consider amendments. He did not say whether a referendum would be held to ratify the changes, as customary.

Seeking to avert a destabilising backlash, he warned that the armed forces, and police will deal “decisively” with violence.

After the 9.20pm announcement, the Brotherhood’s TV station went blank. Shortly before, the army deployed troops, commandos, and armoured vehicles in cities around the country.

In Cairo, they stationed on bridges over the Nile River and at major intersections. They also surrounded rallies being held by Morsi’s supporters — an apparent move to contain them.

Travel bans were imposed on Morsi and top figures from his Muslim Brotherhood including its chief Mohammed Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater.

Morsi’s facebook page quoted him yesterday as saying he rejected measures announced by the army as a “military coup”.

It was unclear whether Morsi has access to his own Facebook page or if the statement was posted by an aide.

At least 39 people have been killed in clashes since Sunday, when the mass protests against Morsi began — hiking fears that greater violence could erupt when the final move was made against him. Street battles in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Sheikh yesterday left at least 200 people injured.

The army’s move is the second time in Egypt’s two and a half years of turmoil that it has forced out the country’s leader. It pushed out Mubarak and took power itself. This time, however, its removal of an elected figure could be more explosive.

Elected with 51.7% of the vote in last year’s presidential election, Morsi took office vowing to move beyond his roots in the Muslim Brotherhood.

But his presidency threw the country into deep polarisation. Those who took to the streets this week say he lost his electoral legitimacy because he tried to give the Brotherhood and Islamist allies a monopoly on power, pushed through a constitution largely written by his allies and mismanaged the country’s multiple crises.

Mahmoud Badr, spokes- man for Tamarod, or Rebel — the youth movement behind the rallies — praised the crowds in the streets saying, they succeeded in “putting your revolution back on track”.

“Let’s start a new page, a new page based on participation,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “Our hand is extended to all.

Morsi and his allies say the opposition never accepted their appeals for dialogue — seen by opponents as empty gestures — and that Mubarak loyalists throughout the government sabotaged their attempts to bring change.

The military had issued an ultimatum on Monday giving Morsi 48 hours to find some solution with its opponents. But any deal, was a near impossibility, making it inevitable the military would move.

Earlier in the day, el-Sissi met with ElBaradei, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric — Al-Azhar Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb — and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, as well as youth representatives and some members of the ultraconservative Salafi movements. The consultations apparently aimed to bring as wide a consensus as possible behind the army’s moves. But the Brotherhood boycotted the session, its political arm the Freedom and Justice Party said.

In a last-minute statement before the deadline, Morsi again rejected the military’s intervention, saying abiding by his electoral legitimacy was the only way to prevent violence. He criticised the military for “taking only one side”. “One mistake that cannot be accepted, and I say this as president of all Egyptians, is to take sides,” he said. “Justice dictates that the voice of the masses from all squares should be heard.”

“For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup,” Morsi’s foreign policy adviser Essam al-Haddad wrote on Facebook.


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