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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  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 80.

    Democracy! The USA elected George Bush who started 2 illegals wars! Yet no calls to 'overthrow' the US government even when most of western Europe became critical of the US! The UK has a lying coalition government - no calls to overthrow them! The first democratically elected government in Egypt for years and 'SUPPORT' for illegally overthrowing it-from racists/anti islam bigots! I think!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 79.

    Basket of consciousness

    Lesson 1
    Be true to your roots and you'll be strong

    Lesson 2
    Do all the good you can do

    Lesson 3
    Have faith in the almighty

    Lesson 4
    Don't close the door on the poor

    Lesson 5
    Who have eyes to see let them see

    Lesson 6
    Remember to sing some conscious lyrics

    Lesson 7
    Don't owe to the bank

    Blessing to the meek who inherit the earth
    Showers of blessings above & within

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 78.

    Revolution betrayed? The Egyptian army brings you a new Egypt that looks much like the old one, cleansed of Mubarak and most (not all) of his henchmen, but with the Army’s corrupt privileges safely maintained in return for allowing the bearded ones a share in power.

    The picture is a grim one, Arab Spring turned into eternal Arab autumn. And the Egyptians demand their dignity!

    What a mess!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 77.

    While democratically elected, the way in which Morsi went by in pushing through their new constitution was a joke (33% of the electorate) and that whole process needs be redone in order for stability to resume and for there to be a viable secular democratic future. No modern constitution should even exist in which freedom of expression and religion are not expressly protected.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 76.

    beammeup @43
    "democracy doesn't fit"?
    Anti-impossibilist imposters have got to you!

    We've let ourselves down, allowing & mis-selling a 'democracy' of sham, behaving as spoilt heirs of a colonial & industrial past from which shame should have taught better

    Let not our 'final gift' be advice that others resign themselves to 'honest dictatorship' - so handily meshing with our own, all under Mammon!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 75.

    Surely the will of the people was Morsi being elected? It really is that simple. I mean we all know the man is an idiot but he was still elected.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 74.

    This quote from Abraham Lincoln sums up the Muslim Brotherhood:
    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
    Now they are showing their true colors now that they're in power.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 73.

    the thing that disturbs me is i hold the solution and go ignored,!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 72.

    One person, one vote, one time.Would it have been a breach of democracy for the electorate to depose Adolf Hitler in 1934 or 1935.The US Declaration of Independence says when a government does not secure the rights of the people, it is the inalienable right of the people to alter or abolish the government.That's what's needed here.Rights are being abused.This government is becoming a dictatorship.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 71.

    The muslim brotherhood influenced the result of that election. They are a religious party, they simply said the only way to vote was for Morsi, anything else would upset Allah, so how is that democratic, its not, so its null and void. To be fair, they should get another mubarek until they are evolved enough to not be brainwashed by religion.

  • rate this
    -14

    Comment number 70.

    Not good! Like the Muslim Brotherhood got democratically elected! To overthrow them is to overthrow a democratically elected government! That people seem to be 'happy' the army is 'threatening' to intervene ! :( If the army does overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood ..democracy will NEVER succeed in Egypt! As you can't 'pick/choose' which democratically elected Governments to overthrow!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 69.

    Islam as practiced in many nations is a violation in many ways of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, part of the UN Charter. There has never even been a suggestion that anyone in any government should be prosecuted for these consistent and systematic violations. So much for the bull-oney of so called international law, there is no such thing.There is no law when it's enforced selectively.

  • rate this
    +21

    Comment number 68.

    hurrah the Muslim brotherhood looks like it is getting what it deserves
    "aright good thrashing" it is an evil pernicious group who only have one goal ,the Islamisation of the world to the detriment of everything else.
    leave morsi leave

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 67.

    @63 that's far too simplistic an assessment of the situation. They voted for a president who would represent all of Egypt, not someone with an agenda that was all about building the MB power base whilst the country went to hell in a handcart

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 65.

    Morsi brought this situation upon himself by not building bridges and pulling everyone in together , every policy was suited to the brotherhood including the constitution . Travellers and the international community had concerns about the approach and its just gone downhill from there . Security is the big concern now and the army can hopefull provide this whilst everyone talks and move forward .

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 64.

    58.Informed Citizen

    Good. Now if we can just somehow change it into a religionophobia (sic) debate instead we might just get somewhere as a race. That's the problem. We're all having a row about what to do about Islam and not having the correct debate, which is how does religion as a whole fit with the current and future development of the species.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 63.

    So let me get this straight...

    They demanded free and fair elections. They got them, then, when they didn't get the result they wanted, they launch violent protest to force the elected president to stand down. Presumably they will then repeat the process until they get the result they want.

    I am NO friend of Islam but what were seeing now is NOT democracy, its mob rule.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 62.

    Mouse@45
    "Theocracy
    shouldn't be"

    Today, attempted theocracy spells collapse & ruin. Violence brings disaster for all

    At heart we share the same faith, inescapably, whether in 'revelation' interpreted by reason, or in 'existence & caring' expressed with reason

    All over the world, people are coming toward 'informed choice': between chaos and equal partnership. A job, equal pay, security for all

 

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