Revolution part 2: The fall of Mohamed Morsi

Mary Mourad, Wednesday 3 Jul 2013

In response to millions of Egyptians taking to streets, army and number of political and religious leaders propose roadmap aimed at ending year of unrest

Egyptian president
FIle photo: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Friday, July 13, 2012 (Photo: AP)

Today's milestone marks a new phase in the Egyptian revolution, one which many had awaited since Mubarak stepped down in February 2011. The statement, read out by military chief-of-staff Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, describes a roadmap that includes the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, suspending the constitution temporarily, and handing over power to the head of Egypt's High Constitutional Court.

The roadmap, which various political and religious figures participated in drafting, includes forming a committee for revising the constitution, formation of a council for "national reconciliation," revising laws for parliamentary elections and holding early presidential elections.

Attendees at the press conference where El-Sisi gave his speech included a number of top military and police officials who sat in two rows on either side of the podium.

They included the Coptic Orthodox patriarch Tawadros II, the grand imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb, Mohamed ElBaradei, a representative of the Salafist Nour Party, Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, one of the anti-Morsi Rebel campaign's founders, and a senior judicial figure. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party refused to join the meeting.

The statement was received with enthusiasm and cheers by anti-Morsi protesters to close the first chapter of the Egyptian revolution and mark the end of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The army took these actions following the massive demonstrations, marches and sit-ins that started on 30 June throughout the country. According to some estimates, as many as 17 million Egyptians took to the streets.

The historically unprecedented turnout shook the country and was expected to cause pressure on the presidency. Limited violence erupted leaving 34 dead and a few hundred injured, but no massive or organised violence erupted.

The army was the first to come out with a statement on Monday, 1 July giving a 48-hour ultimatum for political forces to come together to "fulfil the people's demands" or the army would present a roadmap for the country including all political currents. The police followed suit to announce that they were siding with the Egyptian people and protecting protestors.

A speech by President Mohamed Morsi on midnight, 1 July came in reaction to the army statement, calling any attempt to overthrow legitimacy a call for civil war and saying that he was willing to shed his own blood to protect it. Meanwhile, clashes took place in Giza, west of Cairo, leaving 17 dead and hundreds injured before the police finally intervened.

Hours before the end of the 48-hour deadline, the general commanders of the Egyptian Armed Forces met, headed by Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. They called for meetings with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Tamarod (Rebel) campaign, ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, as well as Mohamed ElBaradei, who was delegated by the 30 June Front and the National Salvation Front (NSF).

Earlier Wednesday, 3 July, Tamarod stressed its demands for Morsi to step down. At the same time, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy refused any calls for negotiations with the army, calling any non-constitutional step a military coup.

The alliance was formed on the Friday before the demonstrations to support Morsi. It is led by the Muslim Brotherhood and includes the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party, the Salafist Watan Party and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party.

The Spark

The spark of action against the president started with the Rebel campaign in May calling to withdraw confidence from the president. Against all expectations, the campaign gathered a lot of public support, leading many opposition leaders and public figures to back the movement and support it publicly until it succeeded in gathering 22 million signatures.

The signatures were to be submitted to the prosecutor-general on 30 June, the anniversary of Morsi's inauguration, to demand he step down.

Rebel, together with the NSF, 6 April and other groups, formed the June 30 Front, which called for mass demonstrations on 30 June to request Morsi step down.

Meanwhile, fuel and electricity shortages caused public anger and unrest throughout the country, fuelling the signature drive, deepening the crisis. A minor cabinet change and a gubernatorial shuffle that brought many Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood members to public office hastened the unrest and signalled increasing disturbance.

Morsi also hosted a large celebration in Cairo on 22 June where he announced support for the Syrian revolution against the regime, which came only one day after a US announcement to the same effect. The army's reactions to these statements apparently had not been favorable.

Morsi refused any compromises, either to change individuals or take actions to slow or stop the crisis. A public speech the president gave days before 30 June was awaited with eagerness in hopes it might offer some answers to mitigate the situation. But the speech only addressed the president's "achievements" and asked the opposition not to get dragged by remnants of old regime into burning the country.

One Year in Brief

The Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Morsi, took power in 30 June 2012 following a number of alliances formed with pro-revolution groups and various political powers. Throughout his first year in office, he turned his back on a number of promises given to the Egyptian people and to his electoral alliance, most significant of which was the re-formulation of the constituent assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution.

Not only did Morsi continue with the Islamist-leaning constituent assembly, but Morsi forced a constitutional declaration ahead of the completion of the constitution, giving himself legislative and executive powers and securing the Shura Council against judicial oversight.

This led to significant anger in the streets that turned violent near Cairo's presidential palace in December 2012, where a number of non-Islamists were killed allegedly by a Brotherhood militia. The National Salvation Front (NSF) was formed as coalition of political parties, movements and activists to oppose the constitutional declaration.

Anger only escalated following the referendum to pass the new constitution against all opposition requests to review it. The constitution eventually passed with a 63 percent majority, but the hoped-for stability never materialised, and the worsening economic crisis was aggravated by instability and a security vacuum.

Currency devaluation, fuel shortages, electricity cuts and dwindling tourism only pointed to an unstable regime that is heading downhill, yet the Muslim Brotherhood and the president gave no indication that a plan was underway to reverse the trend beyond statements and temporary international loans.

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