Egypt’s army overthrew and detained Mohammed Mursi in an abrupt end to the Islamist’s first year in office following days of bloodshed and protests demanding his resignation, as the head of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, was sworn in as interim president Thursday.
A senior military officer told AFP on Thursday the army was “preventively” holding Mursi, whose government unraveled after the military gave him a 48 hour ultimatum in the wake of massive demonstrations against him on June 30, exactly a year into his rule.
Mursi’s defense minister, armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced Mursi’s overthrow on state television late Wednesday, even as police began rounding up key Mursi aides and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But according to state newspaper al-Ahram, Mursi was informed by the army at around 5:00pm on Wednesday that he was no longer president.
Speaking at the Constitutional Court in Cairo, interim president Mansour said he planned to hold new elections, but did not specify when.
He said Egypt had “corrected the path of its glorious revolution” through mass street protests calling for Mursi’s resignation, which ultimately sealed his fate.
Warrants have been issued for the arrest of a total of 300 Brotherhood officials, state media reported.
Police have begun arresting leaders of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, an interior ministry general told AFP.
Saad al-Katatni, head of Mursi’s Freedom and Justice Party, was already in custody, he added.
Top leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement were being held in the same Cairo prison as Mursi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak, state news agency MENA said on Thursday.
Mursi had been summoned for questioning by a court over his escape, along with other inmates, from prison during the revolt that overthrew his predecessor Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Mursi “is being held preventively for final preparations,” the military official said, suggesting the Islamist might face formal charges over accusations made by his opponents.
The military official suggested he may now be charged by prosecutors in the case.
Mursi was detained along with senior aides after issuing a defiant call for supporters to protect his elected “legitimacy,” in a recorded speech hours after the military announced his ouster.
“We had to confront it at some point, this threatening rhetoric,” the military officer said.
“He succeeded in creating enmity between Egyptians,” he added.
Staff of al-Jazeera’s Egyptian affiliate were also arrested after the channel aired a defiant speech by the deposed president, the station reported.
Egypt’s military-led authorities also shut down several Islamist-run TV stations on Wednesday including one operated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and arrested some of the personnel working there, al-Ahram reported.
In his speech, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi laid out details of the roadmap for a political transition.
The Islamist-drafted constitution would be frozen and presidential elections held early, he said, without specifying when.
The armed forces, which had deployed troops and armor across the country, would “remain far away from politics,” he stressed.
Opposition leader Mohammed el-Baradei, former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, sat beside army chief Sisi as he announced on state television that Mursi’s rule was over.
In Cairo, thousands of protestors began celebrations at the news immediately.
“It’s a new historical moment. We got rid of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood,” said one celebrator, Omar Sherif.
But at least seven of Mursi’s supporters were killed in clashes with security forces in Alexandria and the eastern city of Marsa Matrouh, security officials said.
The official MENA news agency also reported three people killed in the southern province of Minya when pro-Mursi supporters attacked the Islamist’s opponents.
Already in the week leading up to Mursi’s downfall, at least 50 people died in clashes between the Islamist’s supporters and opponents.
His year in power was marked by a spiraling economic crisis, shortages in fuel and often deadly opposition protests.
The embattled 61-year-old had proposed a “consensus government” as a way out of the crisis, the worst since the 2011 uprising that ended three decades of authoritarian rule by Hosni Mubarak.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)