On the night of 3 and 4 June, after a-48 hour deadline given by the Army expired, the Egyptian Army moved into key sites in Cairo and swiftly ousted, the then incumbent President Mohamed Morsi, who was then put under house arrest in a military complex. In the chaos previous to these events, Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was emerging as Egypt’s strongman in this intervention. After the constitution was dissolved a huge mass of people in the street jubilated loudly with hours of cheering and fireworks. Adli Mansour, the new high judge in the Egyptian constitutional court, was sworn in as interim leader, according to al-Sisi. Mansour has to schedule new Presidential elections.
Former President Morsi had repeatedly and harshly condemned the 48-hour military deadline, calling it a coup attempt against the democratically elected leader of the country. The military-led authorities have shut down news channels in an attempt to silence Morsi-supporting opposition.
The EU urges for respect of fundamental rights and a rapid return to democracy in Egypt. ‘I urge all sides to rapidly return to the democratic process, including the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and the approval of a constitution, to be done in a fully inclusive manner, so as to permit the country to resume and complete its democratic transition,’ EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement on 4 July.
The US declined to criticize Egypt’s military.. US President Barack Obama is deeply concerned over the current situation and calls for a swift return to civilian government. ‘No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve,’ Obama said. Because of the anticipated unrest in Egypt, most of the US diplomatic personnel are being evacuated.
On July 2nd, the Egyptian army issued a 48 hour-ultimatum and warned that it will intervene if the ‘demands of the people are not met.’ A few hours later helicopters carrying huge Egyptian flags flew over the Egyptian capital and other cities. President Mohammed Morsi has rejected the ultimatum, saying it will only sow confusion. ‘Obviously we feel this is a military coup, but the conviction is that the coup won’t be able to move forward without American approval.’
On July 1 clashes between Egyptian pro-government forces and anti-government demonstrators further escalated when the Muslim Brotherhoods headquarter was attacked and burned in the capital Cairo. Egypt is deeply divided between supporters of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents, who claim that the Brotherhood seeks to impose a too strict vision of Islam on the country.
Protesters and opposition parties urged Morsi to step down, after millions of people filled the famous Tahrir square in Cairo on Sunday 30 June, in what was the biggest anti-government demonstration since the toppling of Husni Mubarak in 2011. It was exactly one year ago since Morsi was elected President.
The health ministry said that at least 16 people have been killed and more than 700 have been injured since Sunday.
The Tamarod (rebellion) movement, which largely organized the demonstrations, gave Morsi a deadline of Tuesday 2 July to step down, stating it would promote a campaign of civil disobedience otherwise.
‘We give Mohamed Morsi until 5pm on Tuesday July 2 to leave power, allowing state institutions to prepare for early presidential elections,’ a statement said. ‘Tuesday, 5pm will be the beginning of a complete civil disobedience campaign.’
The group urged ‘state institutions including the army, the police and the judiciary, to clearly side with the popular will as represented by the crowds’.
The group also rejected offers of dialogue from the president.
President Morsi said he was reluctant of early elections, claiming that he would not tolerate any deviation from constitutional order.
The Egyptian army has said it would only interfere to keep the two sides apart, and ‘protect the will of the people’. Whether the army supports the government or intends to step in and set up a military rule, is for many unclear.
Many protesters blame the government for the economic hardship, including fuel shortages and electricity cuts.
The Ministers of Tourism, Environment, Communication and Legal Affairs submitted their resignation on Monday, a day after the huge protests against Morsi started.
Response from the ESDP
On June 30, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) announced in a statement the resignation of its parliamentary group in the Shura (second chamber of the Egyptian Parliament), in support of the protesters. It also mourns Yosri Al-Masri, secretary of Information in Alexandria, who died after he was brutally attacked by individuals of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the obituary released on July 1st the ESDP said it “strongly condemns the ruling regime’s violent practices , thuggery and murder as means to keep its hold on power and holds the President and the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for this despicable crime”.