Egypt's army drives Mohammed Morsi from presidency and power in dramatic coup
Published 04/07/2013 | 05:00
MOHAMMED Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, was decisively ejected from power last night after the army flooded the streets of Cairo and announced a new interim government.
Mr Morsi, who had earlier refused to quit, was told at 7pm that he was no longer president as Egypt's military seized control in a dramatic coup.
As the streets of Cairo erupted in jubilation, Gen Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the head of the army, made a televised address to the nation in which he accused Mr Morsi of rejecting calls for national dialogue.
Backed by the country's main religious leaders – Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, and Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church – he said the military was taking up its "patriotic duty to the Egyptian masses".
The general announced a political road map, suspending the constitution, forming an interim government, and leading to new elections. He appointed the chief justice of the constitutional court as interim president with "full powers of decree".
The leaders of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party were banned from leaving the country, with airports put on alert to turn them back. Local media reported that Mohammed Badie, the group's 'Supreme Guide', had been turned back from the Libyan border.
At least 10 people were killed when opponents and supporters of Morsi clashed after the army announced his removal, state media and officials said last night.
Mr Morsi was last night said to have been moved to a secret location. He had earlier been rumoured to be inside the buildings of the Republican Guard.
The opposition leader, Mohammed Elbaradei, was consulted in advance of the announcement, which was met with celebrations and fireworks by huge crowds in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace.
Mr Morsi had held talks with General Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the defence minister, during the day, but pulled out at lunchtime after it became clear that he was not going to be able to cling to office.
The army's move will now put great pressure on US President Barack Obama, who had urged a negotiated solution. Last night, he urged Egypt's military to hand back control to a democratic, civilian government without delay, but stopped short of calling the ouster of Morsi a coup d'etat.
In a carefully worded statement, Mr Obama said he was "deeply concerned" by the military's move to topple Morsi's government and suspend Egypt's constitution. He said he was ordering the US government to assess what the military's actions meant for US foreign aid to Egypt – $1.5bn a year in military and economic assistance.
Under US law, the government must suspend foreign aid to any nation whose elected leader is ousted in a coup.
The US wasn't taking sides in the conflict, committing itself only to democracy and respect for the rule of law, Mr Obama said.
There will also be fears of violence, or even civil war, within Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood supporters said they would sacrifice their lives to defend Mr Morsi's "legitimacy". One of his closest advisers, Essam el-Haddad, penned an angry statement on Facebook saying that Egypt had fallen victim to a coup.
"Today only one thing matters," he said. "In this day and age no military coup can succeed in the face of sizeable popular force without considerable bloodshed. Who among you is ready to shoulder that blame? (©Daily Telegraph London)