President Mohamed Morsi Ousted by Egypt’s Military

Egypt’s military has ousted Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first freely elected president, according to a New York Times report Wednesday. The military suspended the constitution and installed an interim government, insisting it was responding to the millions of Egyptians who had opposed Morsi’s Islamist agenda as well as his connection with the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Published reports indicated the country’s top generals summoned political leaders to an emergency meeting to discuss a new interim government as tanks moved toward the presidential palace to restrict Morsi’s movements.

The military had given Morsi 48 hours to accede to their wishes or step down, but tensions and protests across the country mounted as the deadline imposed by the military generals on the increasingly isolated president to meet the demands of millions of unhappy Egyptians came and went.

While many of the Islamists supporting Morsi had armed themselves with makeshift clubs, shields made of potcovers or metal scraps and plastic hard hats, the soldiers refrained from engaging them beyond firing their weapons in the air.

After the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the election of Morsi, he disappointed many of those who had rallied for Mubarak’s ouster by aligning himself with the hardline conservative edicts of the Islamists, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, who wanted to impose their will on the government and its constitution.

Morsi’s senior foreign policy adviser, Essam el-Haddad, posted an open letter Wednesday afternoon on his Web page, lamenting what he called the imminent takeover of Egypt’s first freely elected government.

“As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page,” he wrote. “For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup.”

Morsi repeated in a Facebook posting what he had said in a long and rambling televised speech Tuesday night, saying he was committed to staying in power.

“The presidency reaffirms that violating constitutional legitimacy threatens democratic practice by veering off the right track and threatens the freedom of expression that Egypt has lived since the revolution,” the statement said.

Gehad el-Haddad, a Brotherhood spokesman, said the Brotherhood would not bend in its defiance of the military.

“The only plan,” he said in a statement, “is to stand in front of the tanks.”

The escalating tensions between Morsi’s Islamist supporters and their opponents have led to at least 18 deaths in street violence, with more than 300 injured.

Two top Brotherhood officials told the Washington Post by phone that reports stating Morsi and his aides had been put under house arrest or barred from leaving the country are untrue. “This is not true. This is all empty talk,” said Abdullah Shehata, a prominent Brotherhood member. “Everything is fine.”
“If the army comes out tonight, or tomorrow, the whole country might turn into another Syria,” said Alaa Hossam, a government bureaucrat and Morsi supporter, said at Cairo University as he watched the movement of army troops.
“It doesn’t mean that we will go fight the liberals,” he added. “It means we will fight against the army.” 
After Morsi posted a Facebook message about an hour before the 5 p.m. deadline (11 a.m. EST) calling for a coalition government and an independent committee to propose amendments to the constitution, his opponents said the measures were too little too late. 
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