Morsi No Longer President

The 48-hour ultimatum issued by the military expired in the afternoon of July 3. Ahead of the deadline, President Morsi offered what appeared to be a last attempt at reconciliation, proposing the formation of a relatively undefined “consensus government” that would retain Morsi as the head of state. Also prior to the afternoon deadline, Defense Minister (and Army head) al-Sisi held a meeting of the armed forces leadership. He would subsequently meet with Mohammed el-Baradei, the Coptic Pope Tawadros II, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb (the most senior imam of al-Azhar, the ancient school of Islamic law), and representatives of the al-Nour and the Freedom and Justice political parties.

The string of government resignations continued today as four elected members of the Shura Council (Ehab al-Kharat, Mona Makram Ebeid, Hamada Ghalab, and Sayed Abdel Rady) and three representatives of al-Azhar on the Shura Council (Dr. Abdel Dayem Naseer, Dr. Mohamed Mehna, and Abdel Hady Al Qasby) all resigned. The governor of Giza (Egypt’s second-most-populous governorate), Aly Abdel Rahman, also resigned.

Several hours after the official deadline lapsed, reports emerged that President Morsi was informed that he was no longer president as of 7:00pm Cairo time. Al-Sisi led a press conference held on state TV shortly thereafter, which was attended by numerous national leaders including el-Baradei, Pope Tawadros II, and Sheikh al-Tayeb. Al-Sisi announced the military’s roadmap for the future, including the suspension of the controversial November 2012 constitution, the creation of a committee to revise the constitution, and the formation of a technocratic, caretaker government to administer the country until new elections for the Presidency and the Parliament could be held. Other national leaders, including the three specified above, also addressed the nation, explicitly or tacitly endorsing the path spelled out by al-Sisi. As part of the military roadmap, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, 67, Chief Justice of Egypt’s High Constitutional Court, was named transitional president.

In almost immediate response to the press conference, Morsi’s office released a video on a Presidential website describing Morsi as “the elected president of Egypt” and noting him as “ready to sit down and … to negotiate with everybody.”

Following the removal of Morsi from power, Egyptian security forces arrested two key members of the Muslim Brotherhood—Saad Al-Katatni, head of the Freedom and Justice Party, and Rashad Bayoumi, the deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian security forces also began their secretive detention of Morsi and at least 10 members of the presidential team, including Essam al-Haddad, assistant to the president, and Khaled al-Qazzaz, secretary for international affairs.

An almost immediate crackdown on pro-Morsi media outlets also followed Morsi’s ouster. The Muslim Brotherhood channel (Misr 25) and four Islamist channels, including Al-Hafez, Al-Nas, al-Rahma, and Khaligiyya TV were taken off of the air. Security officers detained the head of al-Jazeera’s Cairo-based Mubasher Misr channel and other members of al-Jazeera’s staff. Reportedly, the military took these channels off the air to preclude any incitement to violence following Morsi’s removal from power, which, given the content of some past broadcasts, was considered likely. The broad, catch-all nature of the crackdown invited condemnation from both the Muslim Brotherhood and liberal observers, however.

In response to the ouster of Morsi, President Obama noted that the U.S. is “deeply concerned” by the actions taken by the Egyptian military, and he called on the generals to “move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government.” President Obama also added that “[no] transition to democracy comes without difficulty.”

In addition, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his concern over the political situation in Egypt, describing it as “clearly dangerous.” He added that “the UK does not support military intervention as a way to resolve disputes in a democratic system.” Furthermore, Hague called for “all parties to show the leadership and vision needed to restore and renew Egypt’s democratic transition,” which must include “all groups on an equal footing leading to early and fair elections [that] all parties are able to contest.”

Considerable violence around the country followed Morsi’s ouster. Three people were killed and 50 injured, including a woman who was stabbed to death, during clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters in Alexandria. Further west along Egypt’s northern coast, four pro-Morsi supporters were killed in clashes in Marsa Matrouh, and one protester and two police officers were killed and 14 wounded in Minya (in Upper Egypt).

In Dilga, Morsi supporters set fire to a Coptic religious retreat and to at least three homes and shops owned by Copts; eight people were injured in these events. The attackers were heard chanting “Islamic, Islamic, we want legitimacy” and “What humiliation, what shame, the Christians have become revolutionaries.” The town’s Islah Church was also attacked, and emergency response vehicles encountered roads blocked by civilians. Once the police arrived, an unknown number of people, both Muslims and Christians, were arrested.

 In the northeast, two people were killed and six were injured (three security officers and three civilians) in an attack at the Sadr El-Heitan checkpoint near North Sinai’s al-Arish Airport. Overall, the Ministry of Health announced that clashes around the country left 11 people dead and 516 injured. For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that 23 pro-Morsi demonstrators had been killed around the country.