Egypt's Morsi faces deadline from opposition, army

Egypt's Morsi faces deadline from opposition, army

Egypts Morsi faces deadline from opposition, army

Egyptian protesters hold a banner in Tahrir Square during a demonstration against Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, Sunday, June 30, 2013. AP Photo

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi took major blows today as the army and the opposition gave deadlines and four ministers quit Cabinet.

The head of Egypt’s armed forces gave politicians 48 hours to answer demands made by the Egyptian people or the military would offer its own “road map for the future.” In a statement read on state television, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called mass protests on June 30, which called for President Morsi to resign, an “unprecedented” expression of the popular will. Earlier in the day, the opposition gave another deadline. “We give Mohamed Morsi until 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday to leave power, allowing state institutions to prepare for early presidential elections,” the Tamarod movement said in a statement on its website. Otherwise, “Tuesday, 5:00 p.m. will be the beginning of a complete civil disobedience campaign.” Tamarod, Arabic for Rebellion, is a grassroots campaign which says it collected more than 22 million signatures declaring a lack of confidence in Morsi. It was behind protests on June 30 that saw millions of people take to the streets demanding his departure on the first anniversary of his inauguration as president. Tamarod’s statement urged state institutions to stand side by side with the protesters. It urged “the army, the police and the judiciary to clearly side with the popular will as represented by the crowds.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs tendered their resignations today, a senior government official said. The four handed in their letters of resignation together to Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, the official said. Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou had already tried to resign last month after Morsi appointed Adel al-Khayat, a member of an Islamist party linked to a massacre of tourists in Luxor, as governor of the temple city.

‘Dialogue only way’

President Morsi’s spokesman Ehab Fahmy called on the opposition to make dialogue. “Dialogue is the only way through which we can reach an understanding... The presidency is open to a real and serious national dialogue.”

Hundreds of thousands thronged the streets of Cairo and cities around the country on June 30 and marched on the presidential palace, filling a broad avenue for blocks, in an attempt to force out the president after a year in office.

The turnout was described as the largest ever protest in the country’s history. In Tahrir Square, protesters brandished red cards and Egyptian flags as patriotic songs played. Thousands of Islamists massed not far from the presidential palace in support of Morsi, some of them prepared for a fight with makeshift armor, sticks and shields. Meanwhile, protesters stormed and ransacked the Cairo headquarters of President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group early today. Protesters managed to breach the compound’s defenses and storm the six-story building, and later carted off furniture, files, rugs, blankets, air conditioning units and portraits of Morsi.

The Brotherhood’s headquarters, located in the eastern district of Cairo of Muqatam, had been the scene of clashes since the evening of June 30 between armed Morsi supporters barricaded inside the building and young protesters pelting it with firebombs and rocks. However, the Brotherhood said that armed men who ransacked its headquarters had crossed a red line of violence, and the movement was considering action to defend itself. At least 16 people died in protests across Egypt, including eight in clashes between opponents and supporters of Morsi in Cairo, the health ministry said July 1.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood 'studying' army statement

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said on Monday it was "studying" an army statement giving Islamist President Mohamed Morsi 48 hours to meet the demands of the people before it would intervene, a senior leader said.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is studying the army statement," Mahmud Ghozlan told AFP.

He said the movement's political bureau would meet to "decide on its position." The opposition Tamarod group, which was behind Sunday's protests that saw millions in the streets calling on Morsi to resign, hailed the army for siding with the people.

Tamarod, which says it gathered 22 million signatures to call for early presidential elections said the army had "sided with the will of the people." The army statement "will mean early presidential elections," the group's spokesman Mahmud Badr told reporters.