Protesters in Tahrir Square hold a portrait of Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday. Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images.
Updated at 5 p.m. EDT:
The Egyptian military said Wednesday that since its deadline for the ruling party of President Mohammed Morsi and the opposition to reach an agreement had passed, Morsi was no longer in power.
The “roadmap” for a new political process will include suspending the constitution and holding new presidential elections, said the head of the army, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, in a televised address. The chief of the constitutional court will hold the presidency in the meantime.
Fireworks erupted in Egypt’s historic Tahrir Square in Cairo, which was jammed Wednesday with protesters seeking Morsi’s ouster. In other parts of the city, demonstrators rallied in his support.
The Muslim Brotherhood reportedly said in a statement that “millions condemn the coup” and support the regime.
The day of fast-moving developments included the expiration Wednesday morning of a military-imposed 48-hour deadline for both sides to work out their differences.
Morsi reiterated in a statement earlier Wednesday that he would not cede power, and he warned the military not to “take sides.” Also, in his Facebook statement, he called for a dialogue among the government’s coalitions.
A new element in the massive protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was the use of lasers pointed at government buildings spelling “Morsi… Out” and “Game Over.” Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images.
But the offer came too late. The military had prepared for what was to come by stationing officers in the state television newsroom in Cairo and deploying armored vehicles to key points in the city, according to the Associated Press. The AP also reported Egyptian officials as saying a travel ban had been placed on Morsi.
The protests had grown throughout the week, touched off by high food and fuel prices, analysts said, and exacerbated by defiant speeches by Morsi saying he’d rather die than step down since all of Egypt’s democracy is on the line. He had three years left in his four-year term.
The Egyptian military set a 48-hour deadline — which expired at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday — for Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party and the opposition to meet to resolve their grievances.
El-Sissi said the military, which was not seeking to govern the country, would impose its own political process if the deadline wasn’t met.
In the end it wasn’t, and chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adly Mansour was expected to be sworn in as interim president on Thursday.
Read Morsi’s full statement, issued prior to his removal, as posted on the Egyptian Presidency’s Facebook page:
Egyptian Presidency: Press Release, June 3, 2013
The Egyptian Presidency renews its adherence to the roadmap to which all national forces were invited for the sake of comprehensive national reconciliation which would meet the demands of people and accommodate all national, youth and political forces and which would defuse the political tension in Egypt now.
The Presidency affirms that overturning constitutional legitimacy threatens democracy by deviating from its right path, and threatens freedom of expression which Egypt enjoyed after the revolution. Legitimacy is the only guarantee for stability and confronting violence, vandalism, and breaking the law.
The Presidency’s vision includes the formation of a coalition government that would manage the upcoming Parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament.
The Presidency holds responsible a number of political parties which previously boycotted all calls for dialogue and consensus, the last was this initiative which addresses all demands of the Egyptian street and prevents the nation’s sliding into political disputes which any Egyptian does not wish to see in his/her dear homeland. To protect the blood of Egyptians, the Presidency calls on all political and national forces to prioritize national interest above all other interests.
Everyone should be aware of an evident fact: the Egyptian people (both supporters and opponents) expressed themselves by taking to the streets in the past few days. Hundreds of thousands from both sides protested.
One of the mistakes I cannot accept -as the President of all Egyptians- is to side with one party over another, or to present the scene from one side only. To be fair, we need to listen to the voice of people in all squares.
The Egyptian Presidency adopts a clear and safe roadmap based on constitutional legitimacy which Egyptians built together. The roadmap includes the formation of an interim coalition government on the basis of national partnership to manage the rest of this phase until parliamentary elections within few months, or to agree on the person of the Prime Minister by all factions. This is our vision to move forward. Let the Egyptians express their opinion through the ballot box.
The other scenario which some are trying to impose on the Egyptian people is not agreed on by the masses who filled the streets. It would disrupt the institution building process which we started. Whoever thinks that Egypt can go backwards by destroying the legitimacy of the constitution and the revolution and imposing the legitimacy of force on this noble Egyptian nation which tasted freedom or would not pay its blood as a price for protecting it, is mistaken. The Egyptian people will hold on to peacefulness of their revolution.
Let us protect our peacefulness, our nation, and our revolution.
Feedback on the day:
Nancy Youssef of McClatchy Newspapers gave PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Gwen Ifill an update Tuesday on the violence between pro- and anti-Morsi factions and described how finding a political resolution could prove difficult:
- Are Latest Protests and Ultimatum a Game-changer for Egypt’s Political System?
- The Dark Side of Tahrir Square and What One Group Is Trying to Do About It
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