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A huge celebration has begun in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, after military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says that Mohammed Morsi is out as president and the country’s constitution has been suspended. Egypt’s chief justice will hold power during the transitional period and set a date for early presidential elections.
Mass protests that have gone on since Sunday prompted Egypt’s military to replace Morsi, the country’s democratically elected leader. Morsi had remained defiant, insisting he would not resign.
Cairo’s Tahrir Square filled with those hoping to see Morsi’s government fall Wednesday, the day the military’s deadline for Morsi to come to a compromise plan elapsed. We’re following developments.
Morsi and his supporters have said they see the army’s demand as a de facto threat of a coup. On Morning Edition, NPR’s Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel said Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters have vowed to “face a coup with martyrdom.”
The anti-Morsi protesters who flooded Egyptian cities’ streets in recent days said they wouldn’t stop until the president, who was in office for a year, resigned, Leila reported. Among the things fueling the protesters’ discontent: the country’s deep economic problems.
The military, meanwhile, has said it will “sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool.”
News outlets that are live blogging include:
— BBC News
A related post on the Parallels blog: “Who’s Who In The Egyptian Crisis.”
Military chief Abdel Fattah El Sissi says that Morsi is out as president and the country’s constitution has been suspended. Egypt’s chief justice will hold power during the transitional period and set a date for early presidential elections.
As the news spread, massive crowds gathered in Tahrir Square erupted in celebration.
Update at 2:35 p.m. ET: Egypt’s New ‘Roadmap’ To Be Announced:
A new political “roadmap” for Egypt’s shift from President Mohammed Morsi’s rule to an interim government will be announced shortly, reports the Middle East News Agency, the official state agency. As of now, there has been no public reaction from Morsi and his party, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptian state radio said that the transition plan is expected to be announced within an hour by Mohamed ElBaradei, the leader of the liberal opposition to Morsi, along with two clerics: the imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque and the pope of the Coptic Church. Members of the military and of the youth group that has led the charge against Morsi are also expected to attend.
Reuters reports that the plan, backed by Egypt’s military, calls for new presidential and parliamentary elections, after an interim rule. Citing the army’s Facebook page, Reuters says that the army chief met with political and religious leaders Wednesday evening.
Update at 2 p.m. ET: U.S. Sides With The People, State Dept. Says
Insisting that the U.S. will not take sides in Egypt’s conflict, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki says, “We’re on the side of the Egyptian people.”
Psaki told reporters at today’s daily news briefing that all sides of the clashes in Egypt need to listen to one another, and to the Egyptian public. She also said the U.S. is monitoring events closely, saying officials are “very concerned.”
Tuesday, Psaki said, “The reports that we have been urging early elections are inaccurate.”
Following up on the reports that Morsi has been banned from traveling, Egyptian State TV is saying that all charter flights have been grounded — which would effectively bar travel by any officials.
Meanwhile, troops and equipment have been seen moving toward places in Cairo where Morsi’s supporters have gathered and Reuters says “barbed wire [and] barriers” have been put around the “barracks where President Morsi [is] working. The wire service adds that the army says it is “securing the area only.”
“A senior adviser to the president says an ultimatum was given to Morsi” by the military, NPR’s Leila Fadel reports from Cairo. He was reportedly told: “resign or else.” That adviser also tells Leila that Morsi refused. Note: The army has not commented on such reports and it’s worth noting that the account is coming from the Morsi camp, which has an incentive to try to shape the story’s narrative.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press is now reporting — as The New York Times’ David Kirkpatrick did earlier — that the military has banned Morsi from traveling.
“For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup,” writes Essam al-Haddad, Morsi’s assistant for foreign relations and international cooperation, on his Facebook page.
Those may be among “the last lines I get to post on this page,” he also says.
From Cairo, NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson sends us an English translation of the statement from Morsi.
In a statement on his official website, Morsi “remains defiant,” The Guardian writes, but also suggests there could be a transition plan “based on constitutional legitimacy” (according to Al-Jazeera’s translation).
“Egypt’s military leadership has confirmed it has held talks with opposition figures and senior clerics, and that it will make a statement after the meeting,” The Guardian writes.
Al-Jazeera is among several news outlets streaming live reports.
The Egyptian president believes it would be better to defend Egypt’s democracy and die “standing like a tree” than to step aside, spokesman Ayman Ali has told Reuters.
According to Reuters, “Egyptian liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei met army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday, two political sources said, hours before an army deadline for Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to yield to mass protests or quit. … ‘In the meeting, ElBaradei will urge the armed forces to intervene to stop the bloodshed,’ one opposition source said.”
ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.