A day after coup, Egyptians awake to uncertainty

04. 07. 2013

A day after coup, Egyptians awake to uncertainty

Cairo (CNN) -- Egyptians awoke to an uncertain new political order on Thursday, a day after the military deposed and reportedly detained the country's first democratically elected president, put a top judge in his place and suspended the constitution.



The coup that toppled Mohamed Morsy as president on Wednesday brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets across Egypt to both applaud and assail the generals' decision to take control of the country's politics for the second time in a little over two years.


It also left a series of significant questions unanswered. What will happen to Morsy, who insists he remains the country's legitimate leader, and his key supporters? Will the sporadic outbreaks of violence that killed at least 32 people on Wednesday spread into wider unrest? And what hopes remain for Egypt's messy attempts to build a multiparty democracy?


"I don't think that the military's so-called road-map is actually going to move smoothly," said Hani Sabra, director of the Middle Eastern arm of the Eurasia Group, a U.S.-based political risk research and consulting firm.


"I think there are a lot of challenges it faces," Sabra said, noting the threat of more violence, possible divisions within the anti-Morsy coalition and Egypt's economic woes.


Swearing in


Morsy, a Western-educated Islamist elected a year ago, "did not achieve the goals of the people" and failed to meet the generals' demands that he share power with his opposition, Egypt's top military officer, Gen. Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, said in a televised speech to the nation Wednesday.


Adly Mansour, head of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court, will replace Morsy as Egypt's interim president, El-Sisi said. Mansour had become head of the court just two days earlier following a decree last month by Morsy.


He was expected to be sworn in Thursday. New parliamentary elections will be held, and Mansour will have the power to issue constitutional declarations in the meantime, he said.


The military has not so far publicly commented on Morsy's whereabouts. But Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told CNN the deposed president was under "house arrest" at the presidential Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo. He said some members of Morsy's inner circle have also been detained.


The Egyptian military has dominated the country for six decades and took direct power for a year and a half after the ouster of the former ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011 amid widespread street protests.


As demonstrations swelled this week against Morsy, who opponents have accused of authoritarianism and forcing through a conservative agenda, the military on Monday gave him 48 hours to order reforms.


Morsy's approval ratings have plummeted since his election in June 2012 as his government has failed to keep order or revive Egypt's economy.

As the deadline neared Wednesday, he offered to form an interim coalition government to oversee parliamentary elections and revise the constitution that was enacted in January. But that failed to satisfy the generals.


Conflicting responses


The army's move against Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood, the long-repressed political movement that propelled him to office, provoked wildly conflicting reactions.


In Tahrir Square, now the epicenter of two Egyptian upheavals, Morsy's opponents erupted in jubilation and fireworks when El-Sisi made his announcement.


"This is a united people of Egypt," anti-Morsy organizer Ahmed el Hawary said. "Mohamed Morsy has actually succeeded in uniting the people, after two years that we were totally against each other ... Mohamed Morsy, with his bad management, with his risking all the lives of Egypt, brought all Egyptians back together to be facing again their future, hand in hand."


During his time in office, Morsy has squared off against Egypt's judiciary, the media, the police and even artists.

Egyptians are also frustrated with rampant crime and a struggling economy that hasn't shown improvement since Mubarak resigned. Unemployment remains high, food prices are rising and there are frequently electricity cuts and long fuel lines.


Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a leading opposition figure, said the plans announced by the military Wednesday were "a correction for the way of the revolution" that drove Mubarak from office.


But Abdoul Mawgoud Dardery, a former member of parliament allied with Morsy, criticized the military's decision to take matters into their own hands.


"I don't know how can anyone with common sense support a military coup in a democracy," he said. Egyptians "will never recognize a coup d'etat," he said.


That concern was echoed by outside observers.


"Popular protests are the sign of a robust democracy. But the change in an elected government should be at the ballot box, not through mob violence," said Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.


Across the Nile River from Tahrir Square, Morsy supporters chanted "Down with military rule" and "The square has a million martyrs."


One pro-Morsy protester in Cairo said he felt demonstrators would stay there "until Mohamed Morsy is once again president of Egypt."

'The world is looking'



Morsy himself remained defiant.

"The world is looking at us today," he said in a taped statement delivered to the Arabic satellite network Al Jazeera. "We by ourselves can bypass the obstacles. We, the sons of Egypt, the sons of this country -- this is the will of the people and cannot be canceled."


The state-run Middle East News Agency said the two top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party had been taken into custody, and another state-run outlet, the newspaper Al-Ahram, said another 300 were being sought by police.


El-Haddad told CNN that he has been told hundreds of names have been put on an "arrest list" but couldn't confirm any arrests beyond those of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party chief, Saad el-Katatni, and its deputy, Rashad Al-Bayoumi.


Morsy said he remains open to negotiations and dialogue, and he called on supporters to demonstrate peacefully.

But 32 people were killed in clashes in Egypt on Wednesday, health officials told state-run Nile TV. Hundreds more were reported to have been injured.


The sporadic violence at times pitted Morsy's supporters against the opposition and the military, raising fears of spiraling unrest.

Concerns of a backlash

Some observers warned of the risk of an extremist backlash.


"The major lesson that Islamists in the Middle East are likely to learn from this episode is that they will not be allowed to exercise power no matter how many compromises they make in both the domestic and foreign policy arenas," Mohammed Ayoob, Michigan State University professor emeritus of international relations.


"This is likely to push a substantial portion of mainstream Islamists into the arms of the extremists who reject democracy and ideological compromise," Ayoob wrote for a CNN.com opinion piece.

The U.S. government, meanwhile, took a cautious stance on the upheaval.


President Barack Obama said the United States is "deeply concerned" by Morsy's removal and the suspension of the constitution.

Washington has supplied Egypt's military with tens of billions in support and equipment over more than 30 years, and under U.S. law, that support could be cut off after a coup -- a term his White House statement avoided.

"The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law," Obama said.

He said he had ordered "the relevant departments and agencies" to study what American law would mean for U.S. aid and urged the generals to hand power back to an elected government "as soon as possible."


Source: CNN


A day after coup, Egyptians awake to uncertainty
A day after coup, Egyptians awake to uncertainty