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.


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.


More on This Story

Egypt in transition


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  • rate this

    Comment number 161.


    "Egypt is a majority Muslim country. It boggles the mind to wonder why there is so much upheaval in a land that is far from western influence, or so it once was."

    Because the Muslim Botherhood don't just stand for Islam; the Brotherhood's continued influence will only lead to a one party system, where all opposition are outcast as non-believers and Sharia law is subsequently adopted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    I am not a gambling man (hate it with a passion actually) but I did find myself wondering what odds I could get on Mubarak returning to power. Can anyone help me with that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    151. Someonewhocares - Possibly not, the ethnic Egyptians were over-run culturally and politically by Arabs 13 centuries ago. Possibly the political Egypt of today is a small elitist, culturally Arabized and strongly Islamized bunch ruling over a vast substrate of ethnic Egyptians ... mostly genetically Delta (Lower) & Cushites/Nubians (Upper) Egyptians or mixtures thereof. That is the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    @151 U HAVE NO IDEA!! It is what the Egyptians R doing right now tht attest that without a shadow of a doubt that those are the undisputed descendants 2 the mighty Pharos who once ruled the world!! 30 Million Egyptian Muslim&Copt hand in hand protesting PEACEFULLY in the face of Tyranny ..No Blood..No Aggression just Gigantic celebration tht u would only C when a nation win a World Cup!! PEACE!

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    You can't claim to have democracy when your army step in to tell political parties what to do.
    These countries have a way to go - the problem is that it's cultural - we have army officers who understand why it's a good idea to stay out of politics and allow elected leaders to do their thing. Unless there's a clear breach of international law of course - but even then you don't take over the state!

  • Comment number 156.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    This is why we need separation between church and state. (Separation from mosque and state in Egypt's case.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    "elected government"
    Looking through or pulling the wool?
    Elect 'a dictator', you will NOT have 'democratic government'

    In West, dictatorship is by money: fear of its (fatal) lack, greed for its (safe) excess. Mighty believe selves untitled masters: "Look! No hands!"

    'Users of Mammon', their confident delusion

    But, more & more the people see: these Quislings divide and rule and ruin

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    There is a vast mismatch between what constitutes the most active segment of the Egyptian masses (youth) and its polity (old foggies with military links or brain-washed mullah indoctrinated wannabe dictators like Morsi and other Brotherhood ilks). The issue is - will Egypt's most active electorate be able to throw out the yoke of Islam and Arabization and miltarists ? I doubt it. Egypt will boil.

  • Comment number 152.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Are these the same people claiming their ancestors built the pyramids and the sphinx? What a fall from grace. On a personal note i would love to visit egypt and see the sights, not bomb sights. Go back to being wise men of math and culture and stonemasonry, build a new monument together as people not slaves. People will come, jobs for millions :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Surely the will of the people is a democratic one, can't see what the problem is!
    Perhaps Western countries could follow Egypt's lead?

  • Comment number 149.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I thought all the trouble was to do with the need for democracy. we all know it was about poverty. It will not be long before the people of spain and all the other PIGS nations rise up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    Egypt is a majority Muslim country. It boggles the mind to wonder why there is so much upheaval in a land that is far from western influence, or so it once was.

  • Comment number 146.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    @132. KarimBarakat

    The deception called the Muslim Brotherhood is over.
    The foreign policy of the USA, NATO... headed by the puppet Obama has failed ..

    What are you talking about?
    The current POTUS is the reason Egypt got elections. Certainly not the only one for sure, but most likely not possible without his support.
    But an Islamic Extremist got elected Pres
    Not his choice That was yours

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Anwar Sadat would turning in his grave over this.

  • Comment number 143.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    What a tinderbox. In all fairness, when you give your word at what you will do to get in power then break it... you should have no power and jail for you matey. In all countries this should be the same. We should have leaders that get on, fairness between peoples and peace never war. Choice for all not the few. POWER TO THE PEOPLE :-)


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