Military threatens coup as protests spread in Egypt

Thousands of protesters erupted into cheers
after Egypt’s military leaders warned that they
would intervene if the president failed to
resolve a political crisis within 48 hours.
The military threat set the stage for a coup a
day after millions of Egyptians thronged the
country’s streets demanding the president’s
The statement came hours after eight people
were killed in Cairo as rioters ransacked the
headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood,
which is President Mohammed Morsi’s power
base. Protesters also regrouped yesterday in
the capital’s central Tahrir Square and in front
of the president’s Ittihadiya Palace for a
second day of demonstrations, which appeared
to be some of the largest in Egypt’s history
The headquarters of another political party, Al
Wasat, was also showed being torched,
allegedly by anti-government protesters.
“If the people’s demands are not met, the
military, which is forced to act according to its
role and duty, will have to disclose its own
future plan,” said Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi,
Egypt’s defence minister and the head of the
Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in a
televised address. “These steps will include
discussions among all political powers,
specifically the youth, who were and continue
to be the spark of the revolution. No one party
will be excluded or marginalised.”
Gen. Al Sisi didn’t say what kind of “solution”
it expected Mr. Morsi to provide or say what
he planned by way of an “intervention.” But
the general cautioned that the military
wouldn’t become politically involved as it did
in February 2011, when it assumed power
after the overthrow of President Hosni
Gen. Al Sisi said the armed forces would
continue to “supervise the situation” and
“support the people.” Minutes after his speech
ended, five military helicopters carrying large
banners representing each branch of the
armed forces flew over the protests, eliciting
another round of ecstatic cheers.
The ultimatum ratcheted up pressure on
Egypt’s first elected president, one year after
he assumed power in elections that the
military itself organised.
The presidency remained quiet in the hours
following the statement. But members of the
political opposition—many of whom had said
they didn’t welcome military intervention—
rejected negotiations and greeted the decision
as a sign that the military intended to oversee
the president’s departure.
“When you praise the demands of the people
and then declare 48 hours, I think that the
message is clear,” said Khaled Dawoud, a
spokesman for the National Salvation Front, an
umbrella group that helped lead Sunday’s
protests. “I hope that the Muslim Brotherhood
doesn’t mess it up.”
“There is no reconciliation with a president
who faced opposition and demands for his
resignation by over 20 million people,” Mr.
Dawoud said, offering his own estimate for the
size of Sunday’s protests.
“If Morsi wants to talk to us as an Egyptian
citizen, we are open for any discussions,” said
Mahmoud Badr, a spokesman for Tamarod.
“But if he thinks he can talk to us as an
official, then we would like to confirm that he
has lost any legitimacy he might have had.”
Like Mr. Morsi’s year-long rule, the military’s
16-month stint in power after Mr. Mubarak
stepped down in February 2011 saw frequent,
often violent protests and economic decline.
Also yesterday, 11 ministers submitted their
resignations as protesters continued to
demand the removal of the government. But
President Morsi and Prime Minister Hisham
Kandil refused to accept their resignations.
“A stable and secure Egypt is crucial for
regional stability and security,” United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday
through a spokesman. “The world is watching
Egypt and what Egypt does with its transition
will have a significant impact on other
transition countries in the region.”

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