Egypt's President Morsi in power: A timeline (Part II)

Osman El Sharnoubi, Friday 28 Jun 2013

Key events in the Egyptian president's first year in office: 2013 opens with nationwide protests, parliamentary elections are postponed again and Egypt struggles with Nile dam crisis

President Mohammed Morsi shows the pressure at Brazil conference in May (Photo: AP)


A new Cabinet and new clashes (January 2013)

January 6- Morsi carries out his promised government shake up, and 10 new ministers are sworn in, including key posts at the interior ministry and in a number of financial ministries. Despite calls for a less partisan government, the new Cabinet includes eight members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, compared to five before the reshuffle.

The ministerial reshuffle comes before talks with the IMF regarding the $4.8 billion loan. The new finance minister El-Morsi El-Sayed Hegazy is an Islamic finance expert.

January 26- In the early hours of the day, after clashes between protesters and police forces in several Egyptian cities on the second anniversary of the 25 January revolution led to hundreds of injuries and several deaths in Suez Canal cities, Morsi tweets condemning violence by “criminals” while saying that security forces are protecting peaceful demonstrations. He urges protesters to remain peaceful.

The NSF puts forth several demands as conditions for national consensus, among them amending controversial articles in the constitution, forming a national unity government and sacking the prosecutor-general appointed via the November decree.

January 27- As protests continue in several cities, a court verdict was issued which sentenced 21 football fans to death after they were convicted of killing the supporters of Cairo-based club Ahly in last February’s infamous violence in Port Said.

Port Said residents complained that the verdict was impartial, many believing that a “massacre” of Ahly club fans was orchestrated by the then-ruling SCAF with the complicity of the interior ministry. The resulting protests in Port Said caused several dozen deaths in the city.

In a televised speech, President Morsi declared a state of emergency in the canal cities of Port-Said, Suez and Ismailia, imposing a nighttime curfew which was later brazenly defied by residents in the three cities with no resistance from police or the army, who were deployed to secure the cities following the violence. Again, the president calls for dialogue.

January 28- Morsi holds a dialogue with mostly Islamist parties, including the Salafist Nour Party and its ally Al-Wasat Party, as well as the Strong Egypt Party headed by ex-Muslim Brotherhood leader and former presidential contender Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh.

The main opposition alliance, the NSF, rejects dialogue with Morsi. While asserting that the group isn’t against talks per se, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei says the NSF refuses to engage in a “fake” dialogue, citing Morsi’s dialogue with opposition leaders over the constitution which was followed by his November decree that protected the contentious Constituent Assembly.

January 25 protests
Anti-Morsi protesters fill Tahrir Square on 2nd anniversary of Egyptian revolution (Photo: Reuters)

January 30- In a quick trip to Europe which was cut shortly after due to escalating violence in Egypt, President Morsi stops in Germany seeking, and failing, to secure debt relief and raise the confidence of German investors in Egypt.

The NSF and the Nour Party launch a joint initiative to resolve the crisis, laying down conditions including the formation of a national unity government, and reiterating points put down by the opposition previously including constitutional amendments and dismissing the Morsi-appointed prosecutor general.

The initiative also calls for the launching of immediate investigations into recent bloodshed in which more than 50 civilians have been killed.

Loss of key Salafist allies (February - March 2013)

February 4- Morsi meets with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to discuss the increasingly unstable security situation.

February 5- Morsi receives Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Cairo airport who is in Egypt to attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit. It is the first such visit since the severing of relations between Egypt and Iran in 1979. Egyptian Salafists criticise the visit warning of Shia influence on Egypt.

February 17- Morsi dismisses his advisor on environmental affairs, Khaled Alam El-Din, a leading member of the Nour Party. Fellow party member and advisor Khaled El-Zarqa also resigns in protest at Alam El-Din’s dismissal, raising the number of resigned advisors to 10 out of 21.

February 21–The Egypt presidency announces that the first post-constitution elections for the lower chamber of parliament House of Representatives will be held in April as the upper house Shura Council prepares a new elections law.

February 26- Morsi holds another national dialogue session to discuss upcoming parliamentary elections. The session is attended mainly by Islamist groups while the opposition National Salvation Front boycotts the meeting, holding to its demands of dismissing PM Hisham Qandil’s government and calling for the postponing of the elections.

Rifts between the president and the Muslim Brotherhood and former allies the Nour Party are emphasised in the meeting when Nour Party leader Younis Makhioun criticises Morsi's decision to announce a date for elections without consulting his party or considering the latter's recent joint-initiative with the NSF. Makhioun accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of attempting to monopolise state institutions.

The NSF, who refused to attend the meeting, said it would boycott parliamentary elections until guarantees of free and fair elections are provided, including a consensual elections law.

Port Said clashes in March 2013
Egyptian protesters clash with police in Port Said (Photo: AP)

March 4- After meeting with a delegation from Egypt’s Nubian region, President Morsi promises repatriation of Nubian families who were displaced during the past half century, and says he will raise the issue of the community’s development with the Shura Council.

March 6- Egypt's Administrative Court overturns Morsi’s decree calling for parliamentary elections in April, after referring the elections law to the High Constitutional Court on Wednesday, questioning the constitutionality of the newly-drafted law. The presidency releases a statement saying it respects the court order.

March 7- The Egyptian State Lawsuit Authority appeals on behalf of the Egyptian president, the minister of justice and the head of the Shura Council, the Administrative Court ruling suspending parliamentary elections.

March 14- In an effort to calm tensions after a court order confirms death sentences of Port Said football fans and sentences two dozen others to jail, the first verdict of which was followed by clashes that led to the killing of over 50 in the restive city, Morsi meets with 3 of the killed protesters’ families promises retribution for the “martyrs”.

March 18- During a visit to Pakistan, Morsi receives an honorary doctorate in philosophy from the National University of Science and Technology. His acceptance speech is ridiculed by Egyptian pundits for containing many factual errors regarding citations from the history of Arabic science.

March 24- Anti-Brotherhood sentiment is on the rise across Egypt exhibited by numerous attacks on Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) offices and clashes between supporters and opponents of the president.

In a speech at the Initiative to Support Women’s Rights and Freedoms sponsored by the presidency, Morsi issues a strong worded warning, vowing to take necessary steps to “protect” Egypt. He also warned politicians who give cover for violence and insisted Egypt isn’t going bankrupt amid a persistent economic downturn.

The president also warns that he will “cut off the fingers” of those meddling in Egyptian affairs.

March 28- Morsi is quoted by the state news agency saying that he hopes parliamentary elections will take place in October.

Morsi in Pakistan hat
Egyptian president listens Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's speech in Islamabad (Photo: Reuters)

Diplomatic tensions and stiffening opposition (April - May 2013)

April 10- President Morsi orders the withdrawal of all legal complaints lodged against Egyptian journalists as his regime comes under fire for investigating media personalities on charges of “insulting the president.”

Popular Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef was questioned by prosecutors at the end of March at the prosecutor-general’s office after allegations that he had defamed Morsi.

April 12- At the conclusion of a meeting between Morsi and Egypt's Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, the president promotes several top officers in an effort to thaw the recently strained relationship between the army and presidency.

A presidential report (not officially published) was leaked by UK daily the Guardian implicating the army in human rights abuses during their brief transitional rule before Morsi came to office.

Following the meeting, Morsi underlined the entente between both institutions stating his rejection of any abuse directed against the army or its members.

April 20- In an interview with Qatari-owned Al Jazeera, Morsi announces a coming government reshuffle, saying he will not change efficient ministers.

April 21- Egypt‘s Supreme Administrative Court dismisses appeal by presidency against a ruling suspending the country's parliamentary elections.

April 22- Morsi meets with top judges amid a row between the judiciary and the Islamist dominated legislature who are attempting to pass a judicial authority law rejected by a majority of Egyptian judges. In a statement after the meeting, a planned conference to resolve the crisis was supported by the president as he asserted his rejection of any infringement on the judiciary’s independence.

The week prior to the meeting witnessed protests by Islamists demanding a “purge” of the judiciary, the aftermath of which saw Brotherhood-allied Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki resign from his post in protest to the demonstration.

Morsi and the IMF
Egyptian president meets with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to continue loan talks (Photo: Reuters)

April 23- The president’s advisor for legal affairs, Mohamed Fouad Gadallah, tenders his resignation amid a backdrop of tensions between the judiciary and the Shura Council. Gadallah is the twelfth presidential advisor to resign. He is viewed as the architect behind Morsi’s bombshell November constitutional declaration.

May 7- Once again, Morsi strengthens the Brotherhood’s grip on government. In yet another Cabinet shake-up, three more Brotherhood members are given ministerial portfolios. The ministry of investment and the ministry of planning and international cooperation are now run by Amr Darrag and Yehia Hamed respectively, bringing the total number of Brotherhood ministers to 11 out of 35.

May 22- President Morsi announces the release of seven security personnel abducted the week before in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where 16 soldiers were killed by unknown assailants in August, vowing to hold accountable the “criminals” responsible for the attack. No suspects have yet been named.

May 28- During the 21st annual African Union summit in Ethiopia, Morsi says an agreement was struck with Ethiopia that both countries’ interests will be addressed during the building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. After Morsi’s departure, Ethiopia diverts the course of the Blue Nile in preparation for the dam’s construction, igniting a diplomatic row as Egypt frets over the dam’s possible effect on its share of Nile water.

June 4 - In a roundtable discussion of the Ethiopian dam issue, Morsi listens to suggestions of politicians mostly allied to the Muslim Brotherhood on ways to resolve the crisis. Unaware the meeting was being aired live, attendees exhibited a free rein in their discussion resulting in bellicose suggestions against Ethiopia, deepening the problem further.
June 6 - In an interview with state-owned daily Al-Ahram, the president dismisses calls for snap presidential elections as “farcical and illegitimate.”

An anti-Morsi signature campaign called Tamarod (Rebel) launched in May gathers significant momentum on the Egyptian streets. Tamarod - founded by opposition activists - aims to force Morsi out of office by collecting 15 million petitions (2 million more than he garnered in elections) to withdraw confidence in the president.

‘Rebel’ announces plans for a mass demonstration and sit-in at the presidential palace on 30 June, the one year anniversary of Morsi in office, in order to press their demands.
June 10 - In a speech in front of an all-Islamist audience at which he urged attendees to stand united on the challenge posed by the planned Ethiopian dam, Morsi vows to defend “every drop” of Egypt’s Nile water with “blood if necessary” while asserting that dialogue with Nile basin countries - especially Ethiopia - is the best route to take.

Protesters chant against President Morsi in marches leading up to June 30 anniversary protests (Photo: AP)

June 15 - Morsi announces that Egypt will sever ties with Syria at Cairo's fully-packed 20,000-seat indoor stadium and calls for Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria after the Lebanese militant group joined the battle alongside the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad against the rebel Free Syrian Army and Jihadi groups.
Influential Salafist preachers Mohamed Hassaan and Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud subsequently addressed the crowd after Morsi and called for Jihad in Syria. Two days earlier, Morsi’s foreign affairs advisor said Egyptians were free to fight in Syria.
The move followed a US decision to arm Syrian rebels following alleged revelations that Assad used chemical weapons against the opposition fighters, a fact which drew much criticism against Morsi from opposition activists who accused him of following US instructions.
June 17 - In an untimely decision, Morsi appoints seven Brotherhood governors among sixteen newly-appointed governorate heads. Critics said that the reshuffle was an example of the Islamist group attempting to monopolise power and exclude other political forces from the decision-making process as 27 of Egypt’s provinces would now be under the control of Brotherhood-affiliated governors.

The new appointments also included the controversial decision to award the Luxor governor position to a member of the hardline Islamist group and Brotherhood ally Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya. The move sparked public outcry as the organisation had orchestrated an attack that killed 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians in Luxor in 1997.

The appointments caused a wave of protests and clashes between Brotherhood supporters and opponents in several governorates. This contributed to general unrest across the country, as clashes erupted nationwide between Morsi’s supporters and ‘Rebel’ campaigners in the run up to 30 June demonstrations.
June 24 - The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party confirms it will be joining an "open-ended demonstration" entitled "Legitimacy is a red line" on the Friday before nationwide opposition protests planned for 30 June.

The sit-in, which is set to take place at Rabaa Al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo's Nasr City - a traditional meeting point for Morsi supporters, was announced in a meeting held by the Islamic Alliance: a coalition of Islamist political parties led by the FJP which includes hardline Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, the moderate Wasat Party and various ultraconservative Salafist parties.

With thousands expected in Egypt's streets around the anniversary of the president's first term in office, many fear the meeting of rival protest groups will result in bloody clashes.
Tahrir Square
Fire works are seen over hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathering in Tahrir Square during a demonstration against Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo Sunday, June 30, 2013. (Photo; AP)
The final hours

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 is 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 opposition demands. 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 are 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 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.

Eleven Islamist political parties launch the 'National Alliance for Legitimacy Support' to "protect the Egyptian people's democratic gains." The alliance, which was officially announced at a press conference at Cairo's International Conference Centre, includes the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party, the Salafist Watan Party and the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party.

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.

Ten Egyptian ministers submit their resignations, including Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Khaled Abdel-Aal, Communication and Information Technology Minister Atef Helmi, Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Hatem Bagato and Water Minister Abdel-Qawy Khalifa.

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 the 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 that 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 Morsi its resignation 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 administer 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, threatening to arrest anyone involved in speculated paramilitary activities.

The army awaits the president to either announce the transfer of power to a new prime minister or step down and give room to the army to announce details of the transition. Large masses take to the streets to re-emphasise demands for Morsi's ouster and for a new beginning of transition.

At midnight, a defiant Morsi addresses the nation in a 45-minute speech in which he insists that any attempt to overthrow democratic legitimacy, which he vows to defend with his own blood if necessary. Meanwhile, clashes take place in Giza west of Cairo, leaving 17 dead and hundreds injured before the police finally intervene.

Wednesday, 3 July: Hours before the end of the 48-hour deadline, general commanders of the Egyptian Armed Forces meet, headed by Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. They call for meetings with representatives of the Brotherhood's FJP, the anti-Morsi Tamarod (Rebel) campaign, the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party, the 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 opposition National Salvation Front (NSF).

Meanwhile, the Rebel campaign holds a press conference in which it repeats its demands for Morsi to step down. At the same time, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy refuses any calls for negotiations with the army, calling any non-constitutional step a "military coup."

At 16:30, the military's 48-hour deadline expires without an official statement from the armed forces, which announces that it was meeting with religious, national, political and youth leaders, promising to soon announce a statement.

At 21:00, El-Sisi addresses the nation on live television and unveils a "roadmap" for Egypt's political future proposed by the opposition, which includes the ouster of Morsi and snap presidential elections.

The roadmap included the following points:

- The temporary suspension of the current constitution.

- Empowering the head of Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC) to run the country until a new president is elected via early presidential polls.

- Forming a new technocratic government and asking the HCC to hasten the passing of a parliamentary elections law, currently being reviewed by the HCC, to allow for parliamentary elections.

- Forming a committee to amend controversial articles of the temporarily suspended constitution.

- Laying down a media code of ethics to guarantee the media's professionalism.

- Forming a committee to foster "national reconciliation."

- Taking immediate steps to include youth in decision-making circles.

Morsi responds by releasing a statement on his official Facebook page saying that the Wednesday military announcement amounts to a "coup" and insisting that he remains the legitimate head of state and commander-in-chief of Egypt's armed forces.

Egyptian security forces begin arresting senior brotherhood members, including FJP head Saad El-Katatni and Rashad Bayoumi, the deputy head of the Islamist movement.

Unconfirmed reports emerge that Morsi has been put under house arrest.

Thursday, 4 July: Adly Mansour, the newly-appointed head of the HCC, is sworn into office. "I swear by Almighty God that I will uphold the republican system, respect the constitution and law, look after the interests of the people, and protect the independence of the nation and safety of its land," he declares under oath.

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