Egypt’s military deposed the country’s first democratically elected president today, installing the head of the country’s highest court as an interim leader, the country’s top general announced.
General Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi said the military was fulfilling its “historic responsibility” to protect the country by ousting Mohamed Morsy, the Western-educated Islamist leader elected a year ago. Morsy “did not achieve the goals of the people” and failed to meet demands to share power with opponents who thronged the streets of Cairo and Tahrir Square, El-Sisi said.
Those crowds erupted as the announcement was made on Egyptian television shortly after 9 p.m. (3 p.m. ET). Ahead of the statement, troops moved into key positions around the capital, closing off a bridge over the Nile River and surrounding a demonstration by Morsy’s supporters in a Cairo suburb.
El-Sisi said the country’s constitution has been suspended, new parliamentary elections would be held and Adly Mansour, the head of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court, would replace Morsy.
At the final hour, Morsy offered to form an interim coalition government “that would manage the upcoming parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament,” he said in a posting on his Facebook page. He noted that hundreds of thousands of supporters and protesters had packed plazas around the country, and he urged that his countrymen be allowed to express their opinions through the ballot box.
Egyptian demonstrations from above
“One of the mistakes I cannot accept – as the president of all Egyptians – is to side with one party over another, or to present the scene from one side only. To be fair, we need to listen to the voice of people in all squares,” the statement read.
Morsy, a U.S.-educated religious conservative, was elected president in June 2012. But his approval ratings have plummeted as his government has failed to keep order or revive Egypt’s economy. The chaos, including open sexual assaults on women in Egypt’s streets, has driven away tourists and investors, while opponents say Morsy’s rule was increasingly authoritarian.
As the troops fanned out this evening, Morsy was said to be working from a complex belonging to the country’s Republican Guard, across the street from the presidential palace, according to Egyptian state media.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. governmen – Egypt’s leading ally – could not confirm reports of a coup. Psaki said the United States is not taking sides and urged all parties to come to a peaceful resolution to the “tense and fast-moving” situation. (CNN)