Increasing Political Isolation for Morsi as Egypt Crisis Deepens
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GWEN IFILL: Egypt’s political crisis deepened today as the military pressed President Mohammed Morsi to make concessions to the opposition.
Massive crowds took to the streets again today, keeping up the pressure on the embattled Morsi. The military deadline energized many of them.
EMAN HAMDY, Protester: The army and the people are united. The army is supporting the people, not any regime or any government.
GWEN IFILL: Egypt’s state news service reported that military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the elected parliament should be dissolved, the constitution suspended and an interim administration created if the Egyptian president is unable to create a road map of reconciliation with opponents by tomorrow.
Al-Sisi was pictured today meeting with Morsi. Egypt’s prime minister was seated between them. But Morsi’s political isolation has increased as more of his government officials have resigned. In a statement released overnight, Morsi’s office said he wasn’t consulted by the military about its ultimatum.
“We will not allow Egypt with all forces to return backwards under any circumstances,” the statement read. “We all chose democratic means as the only safe way to manage our differences of opinion.”
President Obama also phoned Morsi last night. A White House statement released afterward read in part, “The president told President Morsi that the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and doesn’t support any single party or group. He stressed that democracy is about more than elections.”
Egyptian army attack helicopters circled Tahrir Square today. Many protesters who saw it as a sign of solidarity welcomed the military’s move.
RIDA ABDUL MALAK, Egypt: No, the army didn’t carry out a coup. This is the people’s will. The Muslim Brotherhood has failed. They failed to government.
SABAH ABDEL FATTAH HUSSEIN, Egypt: The military’s statement yesterday was a great statement and made all the Egyptian people honor and salute our Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
GWEN IFILL: Outside the Aviation Ministry, armored vehicles ringed the compound in a show of military force. Soldiers stood by as observers. But Morsi supporter vowed to resist any efforts to drive the Egyptian president from office.
AHMED AABDEL HADI, Egypt: Gen. al-Sisi yesterday did a great service to the revolution because he readied the Islamic forces once more. They say it is in they say it isn’t a military coup. But in fact it is a liberal secular coup against the Egyptian revolution.
GWEN IFILL: The opposition agreed to designate Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace laureate and vocal Morsi opponent, as its delegate to any political negotiations.
Meanwhile, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood denounced the military’s edict as a mistake.
ESSAM EL-ERIAN, Muslim Brotherhood: It failed to mention the word constitution or law. I think there were many external and internal powers behind the plan for these days. Millions were spent to back a counterrevolution against the Egyptian revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak and his regime.
GWEN IFILL: With tensions at a breaking point this afternoon, there were reports of armed clashes and casualties between Morsi backers and opponents in Cairo.
A short time ago, President Morsi began a late-night address to the nation. He said he is the democratically elected leader of Egypt and is working under the sole legitimacy of the constitution.