Morsi held by Egypt army, deadly clashes erupt

2013-07-04 08:33

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Cairo – Egypt’s army was holding ousted President Mohamed Morsi at a military facility in Cairo today and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested in a crackdown on the movement that won several elections last year.

The United Nations, the United States and other world powers did not condemn Morsi’s removal as a military coup. To do so might trigger sanctions.

Army intervention was backed by millions of Egyptians, including liberal leaders and religious figures who expect new elections under a revised set of rules.

But as vast crowds partied on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, hailing a “second revolution” to match the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Islamists feared a clampdown that revived memories of their sufferings under the old, military-backed regime. At least 14 people were killed and hundreds wounded in street clashes.

Television stations sympathetic to Morsi were taken off air.

Morsi himself was transported to the Defence Ministry, Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad told Reuters. His aides were being held at the Republican Guard barracks where he spent his final day in office defying calls for him to resign, but unable to forestall an ultimatum from the generals.

The fall of the first elected leader to emerge from the Arab Spring revolutions raised questions about the future of political Islam, which only lately seemed triumphant. Deeply divided, Egypt’s 84 million people find themselves again a focus of concern in a region traumatised by the civil war in Syria.

Straddling the Suez Canal and a key piece in the security of Israel, many powers have an interest in Egypt’s stability.

The army put combat troops and tanks on the streets around a gathering of hundreds of Morsi’s supporters in Cairo. The military said it would keep order. Morsi called for there to be no violence.

The clock started ticking for Morsi when millions took to the streets on Sunday to demand he resign. They accused his Brotherhood of hijacking the revolution, entrenching its power and – critically for many – failing to revive the economy.

That gave armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who already had his own reservations about the state of the nation under Morsi, a justification to invoke the “will of the people” and demand the president share power or step aside.

The United States and other Western allies had also pressed Morsi hard to open his administration to a broader mix of ideas.

Morsi railed on television about his electoral legitimacy. He called his liberal opponents bad losers, in league with those secretly still loyal to Mubarak. He pledged his life. Aides said he would prefer to “die standing like a tree.” Liberal leaders said he was “losing his mind” and met to agree on a plan with Sisi.

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