Egypt's army gives parties 48 hours to resolve crisis

 

Protesters gathered in Cairo for a second consecutive day calling on Mr Morsi to go

Egypt's army has given the country's rival parties 48 hours to resolve a deadly political crisis.

The army would offer a "road map" for peace if Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents failed to heed "the will of the people", it said.

It later issued a clarifying statement denying its warning amounted to a coup.

Given the inability of politicians from all sides to agree until now, it seems unlikely Mr Morsi can survive in power, says the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Cairo.

On Sunday millions rallied in cities nationwide, urging the president to quit.

Large protests continued on Monday, and eight people died as activists stormed and ransacked the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which the president belongs.

He became Egypt's first Islamist president on 30 June 2012, after winning an election considered free and fair following the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Jubilant protesters
Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of Egypt's armed forces, left, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and President Mohammed Morsi An undated photograph posted on the president's Facebook page showed Mr Morsi (right) smiling with Gen Sisi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil

The head of the armed forces described Sunday's protests as an "unprecedented" expression of the popular will.

Analysis

The statement by the minister of defence and army chief, Gen al-Sisi, was worded carefully.

It did not say the president must go. The army, with troops in strategic positions across Cairo, is saying the government and opposition have 48 hours to agree a way forward or it will intervene with its own plan.

The Egyptian military has been both hero and villain for the people involved in the ousting of President Mubarak in 2011.

Heroes, first of all, when they put themselves between protesters and the Mubarak regime's enforcers. But later they were widely criticised for holding onto power for too long.

The reality is they have never given up their critical role behind the scenes, which includes huge economic power.

No matter which way Egypt goes - and there could be some very rough days ahead - the army will never want its own power diluted.

In a statement read out by a spokesman on state television on Monday evening, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the army would not get involved in politics or government.

There were scenes of flag-waving jubilation in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where supporters of Tamarod (Rebel) - the opposition movement behind the protests - interpreted the statement as spelling the end for a president they accuse of putting the Brotherhood's interests ahead of the country's as a whole.

As five helicopters flew over the square with huge Egyptian flags hanging below them, the crowds chanted: "The army and the people are one hand."

In the Mediterranean city of Port Said, crowds set off fireworks and sang the national anthem in Martyrs' Square. Some protesters clambered onto police vehicles to celebrate, in what BBC Arabic's Attia Nabil at the scene says was a show of better relations between the police and the people.

And protesters conducting a sit-in outside Mr Morsi's house in Zagazig pledged to remain until a clear plan for handing over power was enacted.

But a second statement posted on the military's Facebook page late on Monday emphasised the army "does not aspire to rule and will not overstep its prescribed role".

"Our earlier statement's purpose was to push all parties to find a quick solution to the current crisis... to push towards a national consensus that responds to the people's demands," said the statement.

An undated photograph posted on the president's official Facebook page showed Mr Morsi smiling with Gen Sisi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.

A senior member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said a solution to the crisis "will be in the framework of the constitution".

Quentin Sommerville reports from outside the presidential palace

"The age of military coups is over," Yasser Hamza, a member of the FJP's legal committee, told Al Jazeera TV.

And senior Brotherhood figure Mohammed al-Beltagi urged thousands of pro-Morsi supporters, gathered outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo's Nasr district, to "call their families in all Egyptian governorates and villages to be prepared to take to the streets and fill squares" to support their president.

"Any coup of any sort will only pass over our dead bodies," he said to a roar from the crowd.

Local media reported that a late-night press conference by the Egyptian presidency had been cancelled.

Ministers resign

The opposition movement had given Mr Morsi until Tuesday afternoon to step down and call fresh presidential elections, or else face a campaign of civil disobedience.

On Saturday, the group said it had collected more than 22 million signatures - more than a quarter of Egypt's population - in support.

But Mr Morsi was defiant in an interview published on Sunday, rejecting calls for early presidential elections.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad Haddad told the BBC the roadmap referred to by Gen Sisi did not necessarily increase pressure on the president to call early presidential elections.

Rather, he said, the pressure was on Egypt's constitutional court to swiftly issue a new parliamentary law and to call for parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, the al-Watan website said the ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs had resigned in an act of "solidarity with the people's demand to overthrow the regime".

US President Barack Obama has called for restraint on all sides, saying the potential for violence remained.

Although it was not the job of the US to choose Egypt's leaders, it wanted to make sure all voices were heard, said Mr Obama during a visit to Tanzania.

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  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 61.

    @58 Informed Citizen

    And who's fault is that if it is ? Everywhere you look Islam is being abused and used as an excuse for murder and suppression by leaders of countries and their lackies as well as the fanatics. The evidence is clear and open to everyone. Might as well say the Middle East is riddled with Israelaphobia, USAaphobia and Womenaphobia....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 60.

    Such a shame after all the revolution!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 59.

    Re 35----------pretentious ? Toi ?

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 58.

    Islamophobia is skewering a lot of peoples thinking on this crisis.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 57.

    The Egyptian army also happens to be supplied almost exclusively by the Americans! Only the military is guaranteed victory in Egypt.
    Leave them to it, you cannot impose values on anyone. It took us 600 years to get from Magna Carta to Universal Suffrage. The Middle East is not going to achieve that overnight.

    Vote for who you like but the army dictates who you get!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 56.

    @44 Johnny Dash
    Certainly can't argue with that comment.Beautiful country and great people, by and large,but only a lunatic would go there on holiday now or in the near future. But you could see this coming once the name of the winning party was known.Sadly an Iran MK 2 in prospect IMO and once again a religion is twisted to suit the bullies and its the very people it promises to help get trampled

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 55.

    Who are the rebels this time?
    We need to know.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 54.

    AJDF, there are million out there in protest, however there are millions more that are persuaded by religion to vote a particular way. It is so corruptly controlled, there is a big desire to bring in Sharia law to Egypt and if it is deemed as 'Allahs' will, then it will go ahead.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 53.

    I bet that moving Egyptian statue has something to do with this.

  • rate this
    +25

    Comment number 52.

    Islam works in a democracy but only if you follow all the MB rules

    Agree to vote for one political party for ever more
    Accept Sharia
    Never protest ( unless you like being shot at)
    Hate every other country that isn't in the MB.

    Easy

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 51.

    Democracy is a game with many rules and one of those rules is (should be!) that theocrats should not be allowed to take part in that game. This because they get elected by the people but once elected they see themselves as accountable to god!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 50.

    If the Egyptians don't want the current government in then for the sake of the people they should leave and let someone else come in and try.

    They clearly weren't happy with the previous government and hoped this one would bring more benefits.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 49.

    To all those people with a one-dimensional, caricatured view of Muslims as jihadists intent on bringing Sharia law to the UK - look at Egypt. Here are millions of Muslims refusing to be party to a theocracy or ecclesiarchy. There is hope yet for a world of secular democracies.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 48.

    Its true that democracy does not fit everyone. It doesn't fit religious fanatics in many countries that like to rule by fear and execution for non believers for sure, Iran ? Regardless of which religion.But Egypt needs to make its mind up what it wants because it can't riot everytime they don't like the Government they voted in. Seperating religion and politics is vital but won't happen I'm afraid

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 47.

    The last election was bought with anti-biotics for the sick and a promise that Allah would be happy with them if they voted for Morsi. Democracy cannot exist in an country which is so blinded by religion.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 46.

    Regards to, "To get further they have to pretend to the people that they're a government for all the people!"


    He's failed on that one, miserably.

    PS. SCAF...though only wanted his tenure to be a short one, now they have got their wish. &
    PPS. Could Egypt be the the next Syria? That's a possibility. But will depend how the army react to either side, & if they employ a violent "Coup d'├ętat"!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 45.

    Although I'm personally on the side of the protestors, my head is saying that a quarter of the population is not a majority, or even close to it.

    Granted, Egypt is turning into a theocracy and that shouldn't be the case, but when only a quarter of the population in the UK want the Tories in power, nothing changes here!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 44.

    41. topgazza - Your right, but that does not mean that it has the right to stay in power when it destroys the Tourism trade, refuse to deal with the sexual violence and intimidation meeted out towards its female population and cannot get to grips with a sliding economy. Morsi promised a change for the better, not change for the worse.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 43.

    It is becoming more apparent...democracy doesn't fit everyone. Religion & politics must be separate and tribal differences won't get them off the ground. Dictators thrive under these circumstances...sad, but true!!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 42.

    Having the army give an ultimatum is bad enough but paired with an Islamic government makes this an even more dangerous situation. It is possible or even probable that the army has Islamic ferver.

 

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