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Egypt military gives political forces 48 hours to resolve crisis

If no mutually-acceptable solution to crisis is reached within next 48 hours, military will step in with 'roadmap' for Egypt's political future

Ahram Online, Monday 1 Jul 2013
El Sisi
Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)
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The Egyptian Armed Forces issued a televised statement on Monday afternoon giving Egyptian political forces 48 hours to "fulfil the people's demands," otherwise the armed forces would present a political "roadmap" for the country that would include all political currents.

"The Egyptian Armed Forces will not become involved in politics or administration; it is satisfied with its role as is spelt out in line with democratic norms," read the statement, stressing that Egyptian national security was in "great danger" and referring to the armed forces' "responsibility" to step in if national security was threatened.

"The Egyptian Armed Forces have set a deadline, which ended yesterday [Sunday], for all political powers to reconcile and end the current crisis, but no progress has been made. Consequently, the Egyptian people have taken to the streets," the statement read.

"Wasting more time will mean more division and conflict, which is what the armed forces warned of and of which it continues to warn," the statement added.

According to the statement, the absence of national consensus is what led the people to take to the streets in full determination, "which has been praised on the internal, regional and global level."

 The statement went on to warn that more time would only lead to greater polarisation, urging all parties to put the public interest first.

"The armed forces reiterates its call that the demands of the people be met," the statement read, giving political factions a 48-hour period "as a last chance to bear the historical burden that the nation is currently facing."

The official Facebook page of the Egyptian presidency published a brief entry on Monday evening, after the army statement was televised ,stating that President Mohamed Morsi held a meeting with Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and Minister of Defence General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, although it was not clear if the meeting had concluded or was still taking place at the time of publication.

No details about the discussions at the meeting have been announced.

Upon hearing the news, Egyptian protesters outside the presidential palace and in Tahrir Square cheered, while army helicopters flew over Tahrir  as they did the day before.

In Alexandria's sit-in in the Sidi Gaber district, Yasmine Fathi told Ahram Online that protesters "welcomed" the army's statement regarding the ongoing political crisis.

"I'm so proud of our army; it has proven that it will stand by the people always," Aya Hawash, a Sidi Gaber protester said. "I'm not worried if the army rules, because it's obvious that their first priority is the Egyptian people."

Expressing his happiness with the statement, Tarek Fahmy, another protester, said that former head of Egypt's military Hussein Tantawi "was not a good man" because he made a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood allowing them to come to power.

"El-Sisi, however, has proven through his actions that he will support the democratic path," he said.

Several key members of the Egyptian opposition have welcomed the statement issued by the armed forces.

 

“The statement is telling President Mohamed Morsi to resign,” said Mahmoud Badr, spokesman of the anti-Morsi ‘Rebel’ campaign, which claims to have gathered 22 million signatures calling on the president to step down, and which was a key coordinator of the weekend’s massive anti-Morsi protests.

Badr added in a statement published on the campaign’s official Facebook page that “the army’s historic role is to take the side of the people.”

However, via Twitter, many activists who frequent the squares expressed their dismay regarding the military's re-intervention in Egyptian politics.

Their concerns stem from the year and a half of military rule following Egypt's January 2011 revolution during which there was a constant struggle between protesters and police and army forces.

At a pro-Morsi rally held by Islamist forces in Cairo's Nasr City district, demonstrators voiced support for the president's "democratic legitimacy," chanting, "Power, will, faith... Morsi is under attack."

The Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau and the group’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), are holding an emergency meeting on Monday evening to discuss a response to an ultimatum by the military, a high profile Brotherhood source told Ahram Arabic website.

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