Shocking images emerge of Egyptian protesters trying to bring down military helicopter as Morsi expected to step down or be sacked by Egyptian military today
- At least 23 killed in overnight clashes in Cairo and 200 more injured
- The Al-Ahram newspaper reports that the army could step in today
- Anti-Morsi demonstrations have become the largest since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising as they enter the third day of protests
- Protesters have been chanting: ‘The people demand the fall of the regime’
- Deadline set by military for resolution fast approaches before it will intervene
- U.S. and UK have urged citizens to cancel travel plans to or within Egypt
- Protests caused Egyptian shares to reach three-week high as oil prices soar
PUBLISHED: 02:52 EST, 3 July 2013 | UPDATED: 02:56 EST, 3 July 2013
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is expected to either resign or be forced out of his role by the military today, claim the country’s media, as images emerge showing protesters trying to bring down an army helicopter.
Violence between anti-Morsi protesters and opposition groups escalated last night with trouble in the capital Cairo seeing at least 23 people killed and 200 injured.
The clashes came hours after the country’s military leaders laid down a deadline for President Morsi to find a resolution to Egypt’s political crisis or else the army would impose its own political plan.
The army plans to depose Morsi should no solution be reached, suspend the constitution, disband parliament and install a new leadership.
Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper said the road map would establish a three-member presidential council to be chaired by the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
But an armed forces spokesman denied the claims and said that the countries leaders would instead be called to crisis talks.
The latest developments came after pictures emerged of protesters shining laser pointers at a military helicopter on Sunday night in an apparent attempt to bring it down.
Most of those killed in overnight violence reportedly died in a single incident of fighting outside Cairo University.
According to the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen, the whole country is in turmoil.
He said that opponents of Morsi have indicated that they are prepared to die for the cause.
He told Radio 4 this morning: ‘I saw young men out on the street brandishing burial shrouds as a sign of their willingness for martyrdom’.
President Mohammed Morsi, who yesterday rebuffed an army ultimatum to force a resolution to Egypt’s political crisis, has made an emotional speech which was aired live to the nation.
Morsi, who a year ago was inaugurated as Egypt’s first freely elected president, pledged to protect his ‘constitutional legitimacy’ with his life.
He accused loyalists of his ousted autocratic predecessor Hosni Mubarak of exploiting the wave of protests to topple his regime and thwart democracy.
‘There is no substitute for legitimacy,’ said Morsi, who at times angrily raised his voice, thrust his fist in the air and pounded the podium.
He warned that electoral and constitutional legitimacy ‘is the only guarantee against violence.’
Morsi’s defiant statement showed that he and his Muslim Brotherhood are prepared to run the risk of challenging the army.
It also entrenches the lines of confrontation between his Islamist supporters and Egyptians angry over what they see as his efforts to impose control by his Muslim Brotherhood and his failures to deal with the country’s multiple problems.
The crisis has become a struggle over whether a popular uprising can overturn the verdict of the ballot box.
Morsi’s opponents say he has lost his legitimacy through mistakes and power grabs and that their turnout on the streets over the past three days shows the nation has turned against him.
Nationwide protests against Morsi prompted the army to tell feuding politicians they had 48 hours find a resolution with the opposition or it would impose its own road map for the country.
Neither side showed any signs of backing down today with Morsi arguing he had not been consulted by the military and would pursue his own plans for national reconciliation.
But the Islamist leader looked increasingly isolated with the liberal opposition refusing to talk to him and the armed forces, backed by millions of protesters in the street, giving him until Wednesday to agree to share power.
Newspapers across the political spectrum saw the army’s 48-hour deadline as a turning point.
‘Last 48 hours of Muslim Brotherhood rule,’ the opposition daily El Watan declared. ‘Egypt awaits the army,’ said the state-owned El Akhbar.
But as anti-Morsi protests entered the third day, Egyptian shares jumped to a three-week high this morning.
The bourse’s benchmark index jumped 4.9 per cent in early trade to its highest point since June 9 after a bank holiday on Monday to mark the start of a new fiscal year.
Share prices fell 12 per cent in June amid fears that a mass protest called for June 30 might deteriorate into violence, further aggravating a deteriorating economy.
Huge numbers: Egypt’s powerful armed forces gave Islamist President Mohamed Morsi a virtual ultimatum to share power, urging the nation’s feuding politicians to agree on an inclusive roadmap for the country’s future within 48 hours
But it has also caused the price of oil around the world to soar past $98 a barrel today because of concerns that the protests in Egypt and the civil war in Syria could affect the production and transport of oil supplies in the Middle East and North Africa.
By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for August delivery was up 37 cents to $98.36 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $1.43 to close at $97.99 on Monday.
Meanwhile, protesters remain encamped in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and protest leaders have called for another mass rally on tonight to try to force the president out.
Morsi’s Islamist backers have hunkered down at their own rally site on the other side of town, vowing to resist what they depict as a threat of a coup against a legitimately elected president.
The deadline has put enormous pressure on Morsi to step down and last night sent giant crowds opposing the president in Cairo and other cities into delirious celebrations of singing, dancing and fireworks.
But it also raised worries on both sides that the army could take over outright as it did after the 2011 ousting of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
It has raised the risk of a backlash from Morsi’s Islamist backers, including his powerful Muslim Brotherhood and hard-liners, some of whom once belonged to armed militant groups.
Pro-Morsi marches numbering in the several thousands began after nightfall on Monday in a string of cities around the country, sparking clashes in some places.
An alliance of the Brotherhood and Islamists read a statement at a televised conference calling on people to rally to prevent ‘any attempt to overturn’ Morsi’s election a year ago.
A line of around 1,500 men with shields, helmets and sticks – assigned with protecting the rally – stamped their feet in military-like lines, singing, ‘stomp our feet, raise a fire. Islam’s march is coming’.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. is committed to democracy in Egypt, not any particular leader.
Fireworks explode over Tahrir Square as the sun sets during protests last night
As nightfall came to Cairo, opponents of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi protest were still gathered in their thousands outside the presidential palace
Traveling in Tanzania, Obama said that although Morsi was democratically elected, the government must respect its opposition and minority groups.
Egypt’s presidency said Morsi received a phone call from Obama, who said the U.S. administration ‘supports peaceful democratic transition in Egypt’.
The military’s statement came on the second day straight day of anti-Morsi protests nationwide, and even though many of the opposition supporters welcomed it, it triggered echoes of a time when the generals were in power following Mubarak’s ouster.
Many of those now in the anti-Morsi campaign then led demonstrations against military rule, angered by its management of the transition and heavy hand in the killing of protesters.
Hours after its announcement, the military issued a second statement on its Facebook page denying it intended a coup.
‘The ideology and culture of the Egyptian armed forces does not allow for the policy of a military coup,’ it said.
In its initial statement, the military said it would ‘announce a road map for the future and measures to implement it’ if Morsi and its opponents cannot reach a consensus within 48 hours – a virtual impossibility. It promised to include all ‘patriotic and sincere’ factions in the process.
TENSION RISING: TRAVEL ADVICE
The U.S. State Department and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have urged citizens to cancel travel plans to or within Egypt.
The FCO advise against all travel to parts of the country – around one million British nationals visit Egypt every year.
The demonstrations are ‘likely to continue in the near future,’ the U.S. travel warning said.
The U.S has also evacuated various ‘non-emergency employees and family members’ from the country.
Similar warnings have followed from Canada.
Since February the Netherlands has been advising its citizens to ‘consider taking the initiative to leave the country.’
France, Germany and New Zealand continue to urge travelers to Egypt to avoid large crowds and be on alert.
The military underlined it will ‘not be a party in politics or rule’. But it said it has a responsibility to find a solution because Egypt’s national security is facing a ‘grave danger’, according to the statement.
It did not detail the road map, but it heavily praised the massive protests that began Sunday demanding that Morsi step down and that early elections be called – suggesting that call had to be satisfied.
It said the protests were ‘glorious,’ adding that the participants expressed their opinion ‘in peaceful and civilized manner’. It urged ‘the people’s demands to be met’.
Morsi met with military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, according to the president’s Facebook page, without giving details. Associated Press calls to presidential spokesmen were not answered.
In a sign of Morsi’s growing isolation, five Cabinet ministers said they have resigned, the state MENA news agency reported. The five were the ministers of communications, legal affairs, environment, tourism and water utilities.
The foreign minister also submitted his resignation, government officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. The governor of the strategic province of Ismailia on the Suez Canal, Hassan el-Rifaai, also quit.
VIDEO: Muslim Brotherhood HQ is overrun and ransacked
Ultimatum: Egypt’s opposition gave Islamist Mohamed Morsi a day to quit or face civil disobedience after deadly protests demanded the country’s first democratically elected president step down after just a year in office
Sunday’s protests on the first anniversary of Morsi’s inauguration were the largest seen in the country in the two years of turmoil since Egyptians first rose up against Mubarak in January 2011.
Millions packed Tahrir Square, the streets outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace and main squares in cities around the country.
Violence broke out in several parts of the country, often when marchers came under gunfire, apparently from Islamists.
In Cairo, anti-Morsi youth attacked the main headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood with stones and fire bombs, while Brotherhood supporters barricaded inside opened fired on them.
The clash ended early Monday when the protesters broke into the luxury villa and ransacked it, setting fires.
VIDEO:Thousands fill Tahrir Square in Egypt to protest against Morsi
Nationwide, at least 16 people were killed Sunday and more than 780 injured, Health Ministry spokesman Yehya Moussa told state television.
Earlier, the group organizing the anti-Morsi protests, Tamarod, Arabic for ‘Rebel’, issued an ultimatum of its own, giving Morsi until Tuesday afternoon to step down or it would escalate the rallies.
Under a framework drawn up by Tamarod, after Morsi steps down, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court would become an interim president and a technocrat government would be formed.
An expert panel would write a new constitution to replace the one largely drafted by Islamists, and a new presidential election would be held in six months.
For Islamists, however, the idea of Morsi stepping down is an inconceivable infringement on the repeated elections they won since Mubarak’s fall, giving them not only a longtime Brotherhood leader as president but majorities in parliament.
Morsi and Brotherhood officials say they are defending democratic legitimacy and some have depicted the protests as led by Mubarak loyalists trying to return to power. But many of his Islamist allies have also depicted it as a fight against Islam.
‘The military has sacrificed legitimacy. There will be a civil war,’ said Manal Shouib, a 47-year-old physiotherapist at the pro-Morsi rally outside the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque not far from Ittihadiya.
Outside the palace, protesters contended that Morsi could not survive with only the Islamist bloc on his side.
‘It is now the whole people versus one group. What can he do?’ said Mina Adel, a Christian accountant. ‘The army is the savior and the guarantor for the revolution to succeed.’
TWO YEARS OF TURMOIL AND TRANSITION: TIMELINE OF EVENTS
Key events from when the Arab Spring began to the current protests:
Jan. 25-Feb. 11, 2011 – Egyptians stage nationwide demonstrations against the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who led the country for nearly three decades.
The 18-day ‘revolution,’ launched by secular and leftist youth, draws in a wide spectrum, including the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. Hundreds of protesters are killed as Mubarak and his allies try to crush the uprising.
Feb. 11 – Mubarak steps down and turns power over to the military. Two days later, the body of top generals, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, dissolves parliament and suspends the constitution, meeting two key demands of protesters.
June 16-17 – Egyptians vote in the presidential runoff between Morsi and Shafiq. The generals issue a ‘constitutional declaration’ giving themselves sweeping authorities and limiting the powers of the next president. Morsi emerges as the victor, with 51.7 percent of the vote.
June 30 – Morsi takes his formal oath of office before the Supreme Constitutional Court, a day after reading a symbolic oath in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the revolution.
Aug. 12 – In a bold move, Morsi orders the retirement of the top Mubarak-era leadership of the military and cancels the military’s last constitutional decree, taking back the powers that the generals gave themselves. The move was seen as way to curb the military’s role in political affairs but it also gave Morsi the power to legislate in the absence of parliament.
Nov. 22 – Morsi unilaterally decrees greater authorities for himself, giving his decisions immunity from judicial review and barring the courts from dissolving the constituent assembly and the upper house of parliament. The move came just ahead of court decisions that could have dissolved the bodies. The move sparks days of protests, with clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents. At one point, some 200,000 people rally in Tahrir Square, with some of the first chants for Morsi to ‘leave.’
Dec. 4 – More than 100,000 protesters march on the presidential palace, demanding the cancellation of the referendum and the writing of a new constitution. The next day, Islamists attack a peaceful anti-Morsi sit-in outside the palace, sparking all-out street battles that leave at least 10 dead. Days later, Morsi rescinds his initial decrees, but maintains the date of the referendum.
Jan. 25, 2013 – Hundreds of thousands hold protests in Tahrir Square and nationwide against Morsi on the 2-year anniversary of the start of the revolt against Mubarak, and clashes erupt in many places.
Jan. 26 – Residents of the city of Port Said stage protests, angered by a court ruling convicting and sentencing to death a group of local soccer fans for a 2012 stadium riot. Police crack down hard in Port Said, killing more than 40 protesters, and in outrage the city and others nearby go into near revolt. Much of the anger is focused at Morsi, who praised the police for their crackdown.
Feb.-March – Protests continue in Port Said and other cities for weeks, with dozens more dying in clashes, and some police units around the country go on strike. Brotherhood youth and their opponents fight in the streets outside the group’s main Cairo headquarters.
June 23 – A mob beats to death four Egyptian Shiites in their home in a village on the edge of Cairo. Morsi condemns the attack, but critics blame virulent anti-Shiite rhetoric by his hard-line Islamist allies, fueled by Syria’s civil war. A week earlier, Morsi shared a stage with hard-line clerics at a rally, sitting silently as they denounced Shiites as ‘filthy.’
June 30 — Millions of Egyptians take to the streets in Cairo and other cities calling for Morsi to step down in a massive display of anger and frustration with the Islamist leader. The demonstrations are largely peaceful, although 16 people, half of them in clashes outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters, are killed in protest-related violence nationwide. Organisers vow to keep up the protests until Morsi resigns.