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The lead-up to Egypt army's Monday statement: A timeline

What prompted the armed forces' 48-hour ultimatum on Monday, and what will come next? Ahram Online provides a brief timeline culled from reports by informed sources from both sides

Dina Ezzat , Tuesday 2 Jul 2013
Egypt army
Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Ahram Online archive)
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Views: 3030

Tuesday, 25 June: A group of activists and opposition figures notify the minister of defence that momentum for planned 30 June demonstrations calling for early presidential elections were picking up "unprecedented support," assessed at no less than six million demonstrators for the day by intelligence. They go on to voice concern over potential confrontations with Islamists.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of an ultimatum issued by the armed forces in line with its constitutional capacity as the guarantor of national security. The military calls on all political parties to reach a settlement that would save the nation from serious political conflict in language sympathetic to opposition demands for change, which are supported by both Al-Azhar and the Coptic-Orthodox Church.

Wednesday, 26 June: A group of opposition leaders meet with leaders of the Salafist Nour Party and share concerns over extended political turmoil should the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi decline to bow to opposition demands for early presidential elections in view of the expected huge crowds set to join anti-Morsi marches and the unmistakable deterioration of living conditions.

Nour Party leadership communicates the message to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood and offers last-ditch mediation that would include meeting key demands of the opposition. These include the appointment of a new government, a new prosecutor-general and a committee tasked with revisiting controversial articles of the constitution, within the context of a phased reconciliation scheme to be followed by a national dialogue meeting and agreement on a date for early presidential elections.

The mediation scheme is offered the support of the army, which begins visible deployment without prior coordination with the president. An extended meeting between the president and defence minister fails to reverse the deployment, as Muslim Brotherhood attempts to find support for removing the minister of defence fail.

President Morsi makes a speech that shocks the opposition as extremely out of touch and non-reconciliatory, if not outright provocative. Morsi reiterates calls for national dialogue, which is ignored by the opposition that has zero faith in the presidential offer due to discouraging past experiences.

Thursday, 27 June: The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood decides shrugs off the offer on the basis that reconciliation before the 30 June demonstrations would prompt political greed on the part of the opposition. The president calls on his prime minister to work with the cabinet to try and fix the signs of economic malaise. Leaders of militant Islamist groups show solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood, along with some but not all of the leaders of Salafist parties and movements.

Mobilisation is ordered by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. The defence minister consults with army commanders on the prospects of a showdown in view of the Brotherhood's lack of willingness to show interest in any compromise deals, including one offered by the Salafist Nour Party and others offered by independent Islamist figures.

Official information indicates growing mobilisation for the 30 June protests, not just by activists and supporters of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, but by many individuals. The army begins a more visible deployment, with vehicles carrying stickers expressing the army's support for opposition demands.

Friday, 28 June: Islamist figures and followers of the Muslim Brotherhood gather for Friday prayers around Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Nasr City in the thousands. Preachers and speakers announce plans for a sit-in in solidarity with the elected president and his legitimacy. The speakers vow unconditional support for Morsi.

Meanwhile, thousands gather at Tahrir Square and around the Ittihadiyah presidential palace in a prelude to the 30 June demonstrations. Army, police and intelligence leadership make a unified decision to bow to the "will of the people." The Muslim Brotherhood leadership contacts key Western capitals with a message of certainty that the turnout for the 30 June demonstrations would not exceed one million people who would not stay for long.

Activists and opposition leaders step up preparations for 30 June and communicate confidence to their rank and file. Opposition figures meet with army representatives to discuss transition beyond Morsi.

Saturday, 29 June: An anxious Muslim Brotherhood leadership calls on supporters to join the Nasr City crowd. Activists make an unprecedented show of anti-Morsi sentiment and call on citizens to join calls for Morsi to step down.

The army imposes tough security monitoring on senior Muslim Brotherhood figures and continues deliberations amid assessments of huge demonstrations on Sunday. Western capitals call on all parties to reach a compromise.

Sunday, 30 June: Millions take to the streets to call on Morsi to step down. The president fails to convince police to protect the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in Cairo's Moqattam district. Nationwide demonstrations persist in the face of alarmist calls suggesting violent confrontations between Islamists and non-Islamists. Clerics at the Nasr City gathering switch from threats to appeals for reconciliation.

The army leadership decides that time is running out for Morsi. The Salafist leadership again tries to extract a compromise from the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, as several cabinet members offer resignations. Spokesmen for the president hold press conferences to convey a message of resilience in the face of the demonstrations. The president is kept under the eyes of the intelligence apparatus.

Pressure is ratcheted up by the president to agree to bow to the opposition's demands. Western capitals adopt more accommodating language regarding demonstrators' demands, but stress the need to observe the rules of the democratic process. The president unsuccessfully tries to lobby the support of some army leaders.

Monday, 1 July: The Muslim Brotherhood insists that it is not bowing to the demands of the street and insists on the democratic right of the elected president to continue his term in office. The prime minister and minister of defence meet with the president in search of a way out of the crisis, but no agreement is made.

The minister of defence consults with political advisors and issues a statement from the central command of the army – a roughly 50-member body made up of top brass – that basically offers a 48-hour ultimatum to the president to bow to the demands of the opposition.

Massive numbers of demonstrators take to the streets to celebrate. The president and Muslim Brotherhood decline to give way. Calls for a wider show of support for the president are made by the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The minister of defence and president meet extensively, but no compromise is reached. Pro-Morsi marches start to assemble, but offer no match to the massive public show of support for the army.

The Muslim Brotherhood vows defiance and communicates a message of resilience to concerned Western capitals, which in turn call for an agreed upon exit. The presidency announces it had received support from the White House, but the White House denies the assertion.

Western capitals receive calls from the Muslim Brotherhood to counter any possible support for a "coup d'etat." An army spokesman issues a statement insisting that it is not executing a coup against the president, but is only acting upon the "will of the people."

Tuesday, 2 July: The country braces for a post-Morsi Egypt with parallel and intense meetings between opposition, military, intelligence, police and judiciary in search of a semi-constitutional exit. The cabinet of Hisham Qandil offers its resignation to the president as the army calls on the president to transfer its authorities to a new prime minister, who would then assemble a bureaucratic cabinet that would take over the launch of a transitional phase for one year to 18 months.

The army assures all concerned capitals that it is not planning to rule. Army and police are on high alert amid speculation of possible bloody confrontations. The army sends a message to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership to come to terms on an agreement to avoid confrontation and threatens to arrest anyone involved in speculated paramilitary activities.

The army awaits the president to either agree to make a televised statement to the nation to announce the transfer of power to a new prime minister or to decline and give room for the army to announce details of the transition. Large masses take to the streets to re-emphasise demands for Morsi to step down and for a new beginning of transition.

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