[JURIST] The Egyptian military on Wednesday deposed President Mohamed Morsi [official BBC profile; JURIST news archive], suspended the nation’s constitution and installed an interim government headed by High Constitutional Court judge Adly Mansour. Protests and demonstrations erupted throughout Egypt on Sunday calling for Morsi’s resignation for his alleged failure to address economic and security issues during his one year tenure as president. The military announced its plans to overthrow Morsi early in the day, and by the late afternoon soldiers and tanks surrounded the presidential palace where thousands of Morsi’s supporters had gathered. Thereafter, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi officially declared Morsi’s removal from office [Al Jazeera report]. Morsi condemned [Ahram report] the military’s actions as an unjustified and illegitimate coup that he rejects. An aide in the Office of Assistant to the President of Egypt on Foreign Relations responded [Facebook page; NYT report] to the military’s actions as they occurred:
For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup…It has been two and a half years after a popular revolution against a dictatorship that had strangled and drained Egypt for 30 years. That revolution restored a sense of hope and fired up Egyptians’ dreams of a future in which they could claim for themselves the same dignity that is every human being’s birthright…Today only one thing matters. In this day and age no military coup can succeed in the face of sizeable popular force without considerable bloodshed. Who among you is ready to shoulder that blame?…There are still people in Egypt who believe in their right to make a democratic choice. Hundreds of thousands of them have gathered in support of democracy and the Presidency. And they will not leave in the face of this attack. To move them, there will have to be violence. It will either come from the army, the police, or the hired mercenaries. Either way there will be considerable bloodshed. And the message will resonate throughout the Muslim World loud and clear: democracy is not for Muslims…The silence of all of those voices with an impending military coup is hypocritical and that hypocrisy will not be lost on a large swathe of Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims.
The military announced plans to hold elections in the near future. Mansour will be sworn in on Thursday.
Egypt has faced political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] began over two years ago. Yesterday the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged [JURIST report] Morsi to “heed the lessons of the past” and listen to the demands of the Egyptian public. In February, thirteen Egyptian human rights organizations alleged [JURIST report] that Egypt’s Ministry of Interior is responsible for police brutality and the deaths of protestors. Earlier that month OHCHR criticized [JURIST report] Egypt’s draft law on demonstrations for failure to adequately protect freedom of assembly. The draft law requires that organizers inform authorities about protest plans in advance and allows the interior ministry the right to reject demonstrations. The OHCHR also voiced concern [JURIST report] in January over the growing violence and rising death toll in Egypt stemming from ongoing protest throughout the country.