LATEST: Egypt — Morsi Addresses Nation on TV
PHOTO: Opposition rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday night
The conflict in Egypt, fuelled by mass opposition protests on Sunday, took a dramatic turn on Monday afternoon when the armed forces intervened with a 48-hour ultimatum to political leaders: “The Armed Forces repeats its call that the demands of the people be heard and gives 48 hours as a last chance to take responsibility for the historical circumstances the country is passing through.”
An army spokesman later clarified that the statement did not portend a military coup, but was merely aimed at fostering reconciliation between the Government and opposition.
However, the newly-formed National Coalition for Legitimacy, led by the Muslim Brotherhood group — linked to President Morsi — denounced the military’s statement and rejected “any attempt to turn the army against legitimacy”. Tens of thousands of Morsi supporters staged marches in several governorates and continued their main sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square.
In contrast, the opposition National Salvation Front welcomed the ultimatum, and anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, outside the Presidential Palace, and across the country cheered in celebration. Army helicopters hovered over Tahrir Square, throwing Egyptian flags on the crowds below.
Earlier in the day, the Tamarud movement, which organized Sunday’s mass show of opposition, had given Morsi until 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday to leave or face a campaign of civil disobedience.
The Salafist Nour Party, which ran second to the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, joined the opposition early this morning, calling for early elections.
Meanwhile, the Morsi Government faced a series of resignations, with at least five ministers departing. The most prominent of these, Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, quit this morning.
The President insists, “We can talk and have our differences but we must move forward. We must talk to the people in the street to convince them of our project.”
Close to shouting, he says, “Any attempt to shake this legitimacy, this is refused! This is refused! This is refused!…If the price of preserving legitimacy is my blood, I am prepared to pay it.”
That is the last significant line of the speech.
The President continues, “The protests haven’t stopped all year, but they were peaceful. However, when they reach this level, I have to react.”
He lists steps such as a “reconciliation government” an. Constitutional amendments, indicating there could be Parliamentary elections within six months. He also talks of a code of ethics for the media.
Then it is back to his theme: “The counter-revolution wants to return, and won’t with your efforts. I’m with you. I stand before you, always prepared to protect legitimacy.”
Morsi declares, “There’s no choice outside of me, and if someone says different, the revolution will beat him back….Legitimacy is our only safeguard against an unknown path, a dark tunnel whose end we don’t know ”
The President warns Egyptians, “Don’t let the revolution be stolen from you under any pretences.”
Now visibly angry, Morsi talks about “girls growing up and teaching children that their fathers were true men”: “I am willing to safeguard and protect men and women and the army, which we all contributed to by our sweat, blood, resources.”
Then he appeals to the military who have issued a 48-hour ultimatum: “Respect and safeguard the army together with me, bc it took us many years to build this powerful army. Do not confront the army.”
Morsi then returns to his main theme, “There is no alternative to the legitimacy, legitimacy that came through the ballot box.”
The President boasts of how quickly the new Constitution was drafted — “Other countries take years” — to claim, “We are acting with legitimacy.”
In contrast, Morsi claimed, “Old criminals and their symbols…are exploiting the legitimate anger of youth and some honorable Egyptians in order to sow violence and chaos.”
He declared, again to emphasize his legitimacy and denounce “common enemies”, “I address the opposition. I cannot address the perpetrators, murderers, and remnants of the former regime. Only the opposition.”
Morsi continues, “A country is expecting that I respect this legitimacy and Constitution. I have no choice but to bear this responsibility. I have no other option. I have shouldered the responsibility….I will continue to shoulder the responsibility.”
President Morsi began a nationally-televised speech about 11:35 p.m. (2235 GMT).
He began by claiming legitimacy and alliance with the people:
We participated in a revolution, we were able to conduct free and fair elections, the first in Egypt’s history.
On June 29th 2012 I took to the streets with you in Tahrir and pledged allegiance to god and the homeland.
Morsi, as he did over the weekend in interviews, admitted: “In my recent speech, I told you I have made mistakes & their were certain pitfalls & shortcomings. I see matters clearly now.”
But he then turned defiant, appealing to nationalism to engage both supporters and opponents and warning of “forces outside Egypt”: “Egypt cannot be dictated terms or given orders or…be forced by any power. Egypt has its own free will.”
Claiming that “32 families” from the Mubarak era were still trying to dominate the country, he continued, “Corruption and the challenges of corruption, and regime remnants and their striving for things not to change is refused.”
Government supporters and the opposition have fought near Cairo University on Tuesday night. Journalist Kristen Chick reports:
Morsi supporters just kicked us out of the area where clashes are going on near Cairo u. Very hostile
— Kristen Chick (@kristenchick) July 2, 2013
Hearing Lots of gunshots from cairo u clashes. Maybe that's why they kicked us out. Now pro Morsi guy almost hit us w his stick
— Kristen Chick (@kristenchick) July 2, 2013
President Morsi’s office has used Twitter to respond to the mass protests challenging his Government, saying Morsi is adhering to “constitutional legitimacy” and asking the military to withdraw its ultimatum.
#الرئيس محمد مرسي يؤكد تمسكه بالشرعية الدستورية ويرفض أي محاولة للخروج عليها ويدعوالقوات المسلحة سحب إنذارها ويرفض أي إملاءات داخليةأوخارجية
— د.محمد مرسي (@MuhammadMorsi) July 2, 2013
There are large pro-Government and opposition demonstrations throughout the capital this evening:
Images of a rally for President Morsi:
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) July 2, 2013
An opposition demonstration:
— Egyptocracy (@Egyptocracy) July 2, 2013
The Ministry of Health says seven people have been killed in clashes in Cairo today.
The US State Department on Tuesday denied a CNN report from earlier today that the US is pressing for early presidential elections in Egypt.
CNN cited anonymous “senior administration officials as saying that the Obama administration had both urged Morsi to call early elections and warned the Egyptian military that it could lose US aid if it carries out a coup against the Egyptian President. Washington currently provides Egypt with a $1.5 billion annual aid package.
CNN went on to report:
“We are saying to him, ‘Figure out a way to go for new elections,'” a senior official said. “That may be the only way that this confrontation can be resolved.”
The officials said nothing in the Egyptian Constitution gives Morsy the authority to call for new elections, but said that may be the only way to end the crisis.
A spokesman for the National Security Council has also written a journalist, “It is not accurate that the United States is ‘urging’ President Morsy to call early elections.”
Egypt’s military has leaked its intentions if President Morsi and his opponents fail to reach a power-sharing agreement.
“Military sources” have told Reuters that the armed forces will suspend the Constitution and dissolve Parliament under a draft political roadmap to be introduced by Wednesday.
The sources said the military intended to install an interim council, composed mainly of civilians from different political groups and experienced technocrats, until an amended Constitution was drafted within months.
This would be followed by a new Presidential election, but Parliamentary polls would be delayed until strict conditions for selecting candidates were in force.
According to the sources, the armed forces would open talks with the main opposition National Salvation Front and other political, religious and youth organizations once a deadline set for Morsi to reach a power-sharing agreement expires on Wednesday.
The sources would not say how the military intended to deal with the President if he refused to go quietly. They did say that figures being considered as an interim head of state included the new President of the Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour.
A series of bombings targeting markets across Baghdad have killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens of others on Tuesday, security and medical officials said.
The car bombs, detonated minutes aparts, struck at around 6:00 p.m. (1500 GMT).
AP is reporting that Canada has decided to close its embassy in Cairo over concerns about violence in Egypt.
Rick Roth, a spokesman for Canada’s foreign affairs minister, said Tuesday dangerous divisions within Egypt threaten its stability and damage its long-term economic prospects.
Mohamed El Beltagy, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, called on President Morsi’s supporters to oppose a @30 June coup d’etat” by sacrificing themselves.
“We are clearly facing a coup by the former regime, that is supported by a misleading and counter-revolutionnary media that benefits from political conflict,” El Beltagy wrote on Facebook.
A film profile of Dr Mohamed al-Roken, a prominent human rights lawyer among 68 defendants given prison sentences today for “sedition”.
Al-Roken will serve a 10-year term.
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II expressed his support for the anti-government movement today via Twitter, saying “It is wonderful to see the Egyptian people taking back their stolen revolution in a peaceful way, through the idea of Rebel and its youth.”
The Pope also paid tribute to the “three greats of Egypt – the people, the army and the youth.”
The number of officials resigning from the Morsi government has risen as two of his spokesmen, Omar Amer and Ihab Fahmy, stepped down today, adding to the earlier resignation of six cabinet members.
Prominent opposition figure, Mohamed ElBaradei has been authorised by the 30 June Front to speak on behalf of the opposition coordinating and political body.
The organisation stressed that they would stay on the streets until Morsi resigns, and issued a statement saying “We reiterate our calls to Egyptian people to join the Tuesday ‘Determination’ marches that will head to Al-Qobba Palace, Shura Council (parliament), Cabinet, Tahrir Square and Ittihadiya Presidential Palace.”
12-minute video showing aerial footage of the opposition’s massed protests calling for Morsi’s resignation.
The BBC’s Ben Allen tweets that pro-Morsi demonstrators are conducting a sit-in at Cairo University in support of the president, while Adel Abdel Ghafar describes them as having “small numbers but vocal.”
Tents are pitched outside Cairo university, another sit in to support President Morsi. pic.twitter.com/vAXWZndV0S
— Ben Allen (@Benfrancisallen) July 2, 2013
— Adel Abdel Ghafar (@dooolism) July 2, 2013
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has taken to Twitter to urge a peaceful solution to the crisis in Egypt.
Concerned about situation in #Egypt. Vital it is resolved peacefully and in a way that supports the democratic transition
— William Hague (@WilliamJHague) July 1, 2013
A Cairo appeal court ruled on Tuesday to uphold the removal of Prosecutor General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud appealed against the decision to remove him from office, and argued that he should be reinstated. According to Ahram Online, the court also rejected an appeal by the Mahmoud’s replacement, Talaat Abdullah, who asked that the court annul his appointment. Instead, the court ruled that Abdullah will remain in post until the Supreme Judicial Council makes another appointment.
Authorities in Alexandria on Tuesday ordered the remand of 18 men arrested on suspicion of possessing ammunition. Egyptian daily Al Ahram reports that the men, whom it describes as being “members of Jihadist groups”, were arrested en route to Rabaa El Adawya Square in Cairo, where they allegedly planned to take part in pro-government protests. An investigation into the incident is taking place.
Commenting on the country’s recent unrest, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has found a new scapegoat to blame for instigating anti-government protests — the Jewish diaspora. He also identified international media and unspecified foreign powers as responsible for “the conspiracy”, declaring “The ones trying to block the way of Great Turkey will not succeed.” Atalay added “There are some circles that are jealous of Turkey’s growth. They are all uniting, on one side the Jewish diaspora. You saw the foreign media’s attitude during the Gezi Park incidents; they bought it and started broadcasting immediately, without doing an evaluation of the [case].”
Security forces arrested 15 armed bodyguards of senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater for alleged unlawful possession of firearms following an exchange of gunshots at his home yesterday. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed yesterday that a crowd was trying to raid El-Shater’s home.
The White House has said that President Obama, in Tanzania at the end of an eight-day African tour, has called Mohamed Morsi to say “that the United States is committed to the democratic process in Egypt and does not support any single party or group”. The statement said, “President Obama encouraged President Mursi to take steps to show that he is responsive to their concerns, and underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process.” The statement continued, “Democracy is about more than elections,” the statement said. “It is also about ensuring that the voices of all Egyptians are heard and represented by their government, including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country.” A Morsi aide said yesterday, after the military issued its 48-hour ultimatum, “Obviously we feel this is a military coup. But the conviction within the presidency is that [the coup] won’t be able to move forward without American approval.”
The verdicts are coming in for the 94 activists accused of conspiring to overthrow the regime in the United Arab Emirates:
Key accused among 94 Emiratis charged with sedition get 10 years imprisonment. #uaesecuritytrial
— Gulf News (@gulf_news) July 2, 2013
8 tried in absentia get 15 years in jail #uaesecuritytrial
— Gulf News (@gulf_news) July 2, 2013
26 people acquitted #uaesecuritytrial
— Gulf News (@gulf_news) July 2, 2013
The 94 defendants faced sentences of up to 15 years in prison on charges of founding, organizing, or operating a group that aims to overthrow the country’s political system. The detainees include prominent human rights lawyers Mohamed al-Roken and Mohamed al-Mansoori, as well as other attorneys, judges like Mohammed Saeed al-Abdouli and Hadef al-Owais, lawyers, teachers, and student leaders.
Al-Roken and Dr. Mohammed Al-Mansoori were each given 10-year sentences this morning. Eight out of 10 defendants who were tried in absentia were sentenced to 15 years in prison and the remaining defendants were handed terms of between three and 10 years.
All 13 women among the defendants were acquitted.
Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/uae-sedition-trial-68-guilty-26-cleared-as-all-accused-women-walk-free-from-court#ixzz2XsFbmszH
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In April, seven international human rights organizations declared that authorities had “compounded serious pre-trial violations of fair trial rights by arbitrarily denying family members, international observers, and the international media access to the mass trial”.
A court has acquitted two police officers of charges that they tortured six doctors at the outset of mass protests against the regime in March 2011.
The two officers were accused of having “used force, torture, and threats” against the arrested doctors.
One of the doctors, Fatema Haji, said after the verdict:
That’s a clear green light for all the torturers to keep on doing what they are doing.
But what do you expect from a court that has acquitted all the killers that were found in the BICI [November 20111 Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry] report?
This verdict shows that the government is not serious about making real reforms.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, the President’s office said Mohamed MOrsi was not aware of the armmed forces’ 48-hour ultimatum before it was issued. It insisted that he was working to reconcile the country’s political factions and resolve the crisis.