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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Egypt in transition

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 101.

    As a Christian of choice (parents not religious nor friends), i have read most of these guides for life (religious books), but i find the Holy Qur'an written for Muhammed. He only had daughters, so made it law women could inherit,be educated. Generations later they bring in the veils or burka. These people are very frustrated. With the promise of x amount of virgins dying for the cause of Islam.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 100.

    DHL @70
    "if the army does overthrow"?

    You CANNOT 'democratically elect' a government UNLESS all of the people have enduring equality of freedom, to live & work, CRITICALLY to shape the 'direction of life' (daily, in conscience, not under freer & greed), AND to influence government (equal personal material resources for lobbying & campaigning), with reason to trust all others, as EQUAL partners

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 99.

    89. Someonewhocares
    7 MINUTES AGO
    Most muslims cannot even read...

    +++
    That is both a sweeping and inaccurate statement
    Some Muslims cannot read. OK ...but then some Christians cannot read either.
    I am also sure other religions also have illiterate followers too.
    Though I have never actually met an atheist who could not read

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 98.

    Why did I have to see Obama's nose in this country's business?!?! Please. Let's stay out of other countries' affairs. Don't enough people already hate us for butting in? Let Egypt deal with Egypt.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 97.

    Spring has sprung and become a winter of discontent.
    Media outlets and politicians have become very confused and are not quite able to label the bad guys yet, be patient, give them a couple of days to sort it out and point us in the right direction.

  • Comment number 96.

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

  • Comment number 95.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 94.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 93.

    @81.sieuarlu
    are you for real?? It's ironic that in one post you made a point saying how it would have been 'good' if Hitler was removed from power then make a 'Hitler' like comment! What are your views on 'militant' Christianity? U.S. Civil War, World war 1/World war 2, nuclear arms race, Vietnam War, -ALL started by 'Christian' countries!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 92.

    "Its not our job to chose who Egypt's leaders are.."

    How strange. I heard this president telling Hosni Mubarak that it was time for an "orderly transition" in the first revolution.

    Let's see, how many world leaders have been replaced or stepped down in the last year?

    So its nothing to do with the Anglo-American NWO then?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 91.

    Trying to build democracy where a large percentage of voters are illiterates who are indoctrinated into a barbaric form of their religion and where that sect runs for political power is a futile effort. All it did was replace one form of dictatorship with another.The Muslim Brotherhood was correctly made illegal under Mubarak.Too bad it wasn't eliminated entirely.It's the incubator of al Qaeda.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 90.

    @75. NorthCareer
    16 MINUTES AGO
    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.
    ++
    But the army (so far at least) doesn't seem willing or doesn't have the power to actually oust the President.
    But maybe they can force him to share power.
    Weakening the Brotherhood Might be a good thing

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 88.

    where things have gone worse we use the majority rule to map the way forward so it is to the Egyptians at hand.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 87.

    Every democratic party has some pros and cons, the reason to get above 50.1% is part an assumption that government is going to form, definitely other 40-50% are always there to put a noise.Last year almost everyone was united, this summer half are united and this will keep on happening till a desire of respecting constitution is overwhelmed.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 86.

    .

    There is one functioning democracy Middle East, ... the Jewish one!

    Probably a freak coincidence though!!!

    .

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 85.

    I was suspicious right from he get-go....."Brotherhood" or brother!!! Alienated 1/2 the population right there.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 84.

    Mr W @65
    'Morsi brought this on himself'
    With help from US & UK, experts on 'representative democracy'!

    In divided societies, citizens lacking EQUAL security, groups will form - inevitably to oppose each other - for 'the protection' of 'their members'. Their 'stirring for effectiveness' will become the duty of 'leaders', who - like Ghandi & Jinnah - will live to regret simplistic miscalculation

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 83.

    This would never have had happened if Egypt had the good sense to maintain an extra paramilitary "intelligence" organisation fully stock with military weapons and "legal" access to unlimited funds to spend on Private Military Contractors.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 82.

    The world is slowly burning away and state after state is failing and there is no end in sight until most of the populations are dead and theres little left to fight for. Everyone has tried for decades to bring world peace but it is just an illusion since everyone wants their own version.

    Once those left forget the evil of religion then we will finally be able to exist as we really should.

 

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