Egypt’s military ousted President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday as massive protests continued in Cairo. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the army has suspended the nation’s constitution and selected the chief justice of the constitutional court to lead an interim government. An early election was promised to the Egyptian people, as well. The country’s powerful military had provided Morsi a clear choice: heed “the will of the people,” else the army will provide a “road map” of its own for resolving the national unrest.
Millions of Egyptians took to the streets over the weekend protesting against the president. While the opposition established a strong presence, the pro-Morsi supporters also turned out to show their support for the president. Upwards of 14 million people have joined in the protests, making it “the largest political event in the history of the world,” according to the BBC.
Protesters against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi react in Tahrir Square in Cairo on July 3 after the army’s announcement. (Photo: Reuters)
However, Morsi rejected the army’s declaration Tuesday, vowing to follow plans of his own for achieving peace with the protestors. A late night address Tuesday reinforced his defiance, “The price of preserving legitimacy is my life…Legitimacy is the only guarantee to preserve the country.” An opposition spokesman referred to Morsi’s actions as “an open call for civil war,” but maintained the peaceful nature of the protests.
The military was actively engaged in emergency talks with leaders from both sides in the hours leading up to the Wednesday deadline. According to Reuters, the army also assumed control of the state TV. The military enacted a travel ban on Morsi and his top aides, as the two parties continued to engage in increasingly futile discussions.
Despite a predominantly peaceful tone, the protests have led to 39 deaths. Eight of the deaths occurred during Monday’s ransacking of the Muslim Brotherhood Cairo headquarters, which police publicly refused to defend prior to the attack. 200 injuries have also been reported. Andrew Pochter, a Jewish American college student, was among those killed over the weekend.
A Morsi aide has since confirmed the expelled president was moved to an undisclosed location. Tahrir Square, meanwhile, is the center of deafening jubilation as the people of Egypt once more celebrate their push for change.