independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

First the coup, now the crackdown: Egypt orders Muslim Brotherhood arrests

Army soldiers take their positions on a bridge which leads to the Raba El-Adwyia mosque square, where members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi are at

EGYPT’S new military rulers have ordered a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, issuing up to 300 arrest warrants against the party's senior members.

The nation's people awoke to a new political landscape today as Adly Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, was sworn in as Egypt's interim leader this morning.

The prosecutor's office ordered the arrests, including warrants for the Muslim Brotherhood's leader, Mohamed Badie, and his deputy Khairat el-Shater, according to judicial and army sources.

Shater, a wealthy businessman seen as the Brotherhood's top political strategist, was the group's first choice candidate to run in last year's presidential election, before being disqualified due to past convictions, forcing Monhamed Morsi to take his place.

It is believed that top-level Muslim Brotherhood officials who have already been arrested, are being detained in Tora prison, 14 miles from Cairo, where Hosni Mubarak was taken following his deposition last year.

Morsi continues to be held under house arrest in the capital.

Millions celebrated through the night after he was ousted in scenes reminiscent of the Arab Spring uprising which brought the Islamist candidate to power only a year ago.

It was announced this morning that Mansour would act as interim president of the country, after Minister of defence Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi, announced yesterday that this was the new regime's intention.

While the constitution states that the prime minister should take over the presidency in case of such a void, the army - who have torn up the constitution - had said that it had its own plans.

In this morning's oath, he said: "I swear by God to uphold the Republican system and respect the constitution and law... and safeguard the people and protect the nation."

Speaking shortly afterwards, he said: "It as a great honour and gratitude to receive the honour of being the interim president of the government in an interim period.

"I swear to preserve the system of the republic, and respect the constitution and law, and guard the people's interests."

"The revolutionaries of Egypt are everywhere and we salute them all, those who prove to the world that they are strong enough, the brave youth of Egypt, who were the leaders of this revolution."

Speaking yesterday, Al-Sisi, said: "Those in the meeting have agreed on a road-map for the future that includes initial steps to achieve the building of a strong Egyptian society that is cohesive and does not exclude anyone and ends the state of tension and division."

Mansour is a judge by profession and head of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court, of which he has been a member since 1992.

Born in Cairo in 1945, Mansour graduated with qualifications in law from Cairo University in 1967 and joined the state council in 1970. He rose through the ranks, being appointed deputy president of the constitutional court in 1992.

After being appointed as the court's president in May 2013, he took up the post on 1 July.

Last night's rapid developments were met with a rapturous reception in Tahrir Square, the setting for the 2011 revolt. Tens of thousands of protesters inside the square erupted in wild celebration on hearing the news. Fireworks lit up the crowds as they danced and chanted "God is great" and "Long live Egypt."

But many did not join in the celebrations. "Hosni Mubarak has returned," said one man, reflecting the belief that the current opposition movement has been buoyed up by elements from the previous regime.

Elsewhere, clashes erupted in several provincial cities when Islamists opened fire on police, with at least nine people killed by this morning, security officials said.

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