An Egyptian woman chanted slogans, as protesters ransacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo’s Muqattam district.

Khalil Hamra • Associated Press,

Protesters celebrated an announcement by the Egyptian military outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Monday.

Tara Todras-Whitehill • New York Times,

Egyptian military helicopters with national flags attached circled over Cairo on Monday. Egypt’s top generals gave President Mohammed Morsi 48 hours to respond to a wave of mass protests demanding his ouster.

Tara Todras-Whitehill • New York Times,

Egypt's military issues ultimatum to Morsi

  • New York Times
  • July 1, 2013 - 11:26 PM

– Egypt entered a perilous 48 hours Monday when the military delivered an ultimatum to the country’s first democratically elected president, hundreds of thousands of protesters renewed calls to oust him from office and the president’s Islamists allies vowed to take to the streets to stop what they called “a military coup.”

In a military communiqué read over state television that echoed the announcement toppling former President Hosni Mubarak two chaotic years ago, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces demanded Monday that President Mohammed Morsi satisfy the public’s demands within two days, or else the generals would impose their own “road map” out of the crisis.

But instead of soothing the volatile standoff between Morsi’s opponents and his supporters, the generals seemed to add to the uncertainty that has paralyzed the state, decimated the economy and brought millions into the streets Sunday demanding the president step down. It was not clear what the military meant when it said Morsi must satisfy the public’s demands, what it might do if that vague standard was not met and who would be able to unite this badly fractured nation.

The generals did, however, open a new confrontation with Morsi’s allies in the Muslim Brotherhood with its threat to impose a political “road map” on the president. Brotherhood members rallied in half a dozen cities to denounce the threat of a military takeover, a reminder that the group remains a potent force unwilling to give up the power it has waited 80 years to wield.

“We understand it as a military coup,” one adviser to Morsi said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential negotiations. “What form that will take remains to be seen.”

Delicate moment

Morsi and the military’s top officer, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, entered a delicate negotiation Monday, one fraught with risks for both men, and for the nation. Racked with fuel shortages, dwindling hard currency reserves and worries about its wheat supplies, Egypt urgently needs a government stable and credible enough to manage difficult economic reforms. A move by the military to force the Brotherhood from power, despite its electoral victories, could trigger an Islamist backlash in the streets that would make stability and economic growth even more elusive.

President Obama called Morsi late Monday, Morsi aides said. They described Obama’s message as a confirmation that the White House was continuing to deal with Morsi as Egypt’s elected president and to support the country’s transition to civilian democracy.

In a sternly worded statement issued after 1 a.m. Tuesday, Morsi’s office said it was continuing with its plans for dialogue and reconciliation with its opponents. Noting that it was not consulted before the military made its statement, Morsi’s office asserted that “some of its phrases have connotations that may cause confusion in the complicated national scene” and suggested it “deepens the division between the people” and “may threaten the social peace no matter what the motivation.”

Earlier, speaking to a crowd of Islamists armed with makeshift clubs and hard hats at a rally in Cairo, a senior Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Beltagy, called on the crowd to defend Morsi’s “legitimacy” as the elected president. “No coup against legitimacy of any kind will pass except over our dead bodies,” he said, dismissing the latest protests as “remnants” of the Mubarak elite.

At a late night rally for Morsi across the Nile in Giza, Mohamed Fadala, a financial manager, said Sisi appeared to have considered only the non-Islamist half of Egypt. “Sisi ignored half the people!”

Citing “the historic circumstance,” the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said in its statement Monday that “if the demands of the people have not been met” within 48 hours then the generals would “announce a road map” to be “enforced under the military’s supervision.” But the generals insisted that under its auspices “all political factions” would participate in settling the crisis.

The “demands of the people” appeared to refer to the rallying cry of the wave of protests: a call for Morsi’s immediate departure. The generals, however, did not elaborate, leaving open the possibility that they might accept another power sharing arrangement.

Still, the generals were also eager to disavow any desire to return to political power. “The armed forces will not be party to the circle of politics or ruling, and the military refuses to deviate from its assigned role in the original democratic vision,” the generals insisted.

The Interior Ministry, whose police officers have been in open revolt against Morsi, issued its own statement endorsing the military’s intervention — another reminder of the breakdown in authority over the holdover institutions of the Mubarak government.

By Monday morning, clashes between Brotherhood supporters and opponents had left 15 dead across the country. Protesters attacked several Brotherhood offices.

© 2018 Star Tribune