The Cairo coup: Egypt's leader Mohamed Morsi in custody after being ousted by army

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

General says President’s removal ‘ends Egypt’s state of tension and division’


Egypt fell under martial rule as Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist who just a year ago became Egypt’s first democratically elected President, was deposed by his own generals.

Troops and armoured vehicles were deployed around the streets of Cairo as Egypt's commanders, in a dramatic televised statement, announced that the constitution had been suspended. Standing alongside military colleagues, religious leaders and political figures (including representatives of Egypt's hardline Islamist Al Nour party), the head of the armed forces General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for fresh presidential elections and declared that the head of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court would be appointed temporary head of state.

"Those in the meeting have agreed on a road-map for the future that includes initial steps to achieve the building of a strong Egyptian society that is cohesive and does not exclude anyone and ends the state of tension and division," he said.

Mr Morsi is being held at a military facility in Cairo today. Meanwhile other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested in a crackdown on the movement that won several elections last year.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel laureate and leading liberal figurehead, declared that the military coup had relaunched the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. But in a statement published on Mr Morsi's official Facebook page, the deposed President said that the military's actions were tantamount to a "full military coup" and were "totally rejected".

The rapid developments were met with an ecstatic reception in Tahrir Square, the crucible of the 2011 revolt. In scenes which bore a remarkable similarity to those which followed the ousting of Mubarak, tens of thousands of protesters inside the square erupted in wild celebration on hearing the news. Drivers weaved through the streets honking their horns while jubilant opposition supporters launched fireworks into the sky.

But across the Nile to the west near Cairo University, where several thousand of Mr Morsi's supporters have been gathering for two days, protesters were left dumbfounded by the announcement. "Hosni Mubarak has returned," said one man, reflecting the belief among some Islamists that the current opposition movement has been swelled or even exploited by elements of the previous regime. At a separate rally in eastern Cairo, Muslim Brotherhood supporters screamed insults about the military. "Sisi is void!" they cried, according to Reuters. "Islam is coming! We will not leave!"

It had been an extraordinary day even by the standards of this country's recent tumultuous history. Egyptians had woken up with the clock ticking down on a 48-hour ultimatum which the military had foisted on Mr Morsi. Reach a deal with your political opponents, they had told him, or face the consequences. The ultimatum was rejected outright by the Brotherhood. In a speech on Tuesday night, Mr Morsi called on his generals to withdraw their threat. Other senior officials issued statements warning about the prospect of an impending coup d'etat.

"We will stand resilient in the face of this military coup in total peacefulness, and will stand by our just position," said Mohamed el-Beltagy, a leading figure from the Brotherhood.

In a telling moment, Essam el-Haddad, the President's national security adviser, had earlier issued a statement on his official Facebook page which appeared to give a glimpse into the siege mentality developing inside the Muslim Brotherhood.

"As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page," he said. "For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: military coup." He raised the spectre of future bloodshed if the military assumed power.

By this afternoon Mr Morsi was still refusing to step down. In an eleventh-hour statement as the deadline approached, he accused the military of "taking only one side" in Egypt's deepening crisis. At 5pm local time the deadline passed. Still there was no word from General Sisi, yet reports soon began to emerge of troop movements around the capital.

At Cairo University scores of soldiers were dispatched to block roads leading up to the demonstration. A line of troops dressed in riot gear was deployed to form a human cordon on Gamaa Bridge, a crossing on the Nile leading towards the university. Several army jeeps filled with more soldiers were parked bumper to bumper along the road behind them.

"There is a full military coup under way in Egypt," tweeted Gehad el-Haddad, a senior Brotherhood official, as armoured cars rumbled through the streets of the Egyptian capital. Elsewhere military vehicles were deployed to Nasr City, the suburb where the Muslim Brotherhood has been staging pro-Morsi rallies since Sunday. There were also reports in the state press that armour and troops had been dispatched to Suez, where Mr Morsi's supporters rallied at a local mosque.

In a further bid to tighten its control on the Muslim Brotherhood – which since Sunday had been trying to face down a full-scale nationwide insurrection against Mr Morsi's rule – the military issued a travel ban on the President and some of his leading lieutenants.

As Mr Morsi's downfall drew near, his enemies across the region could barely contain their glee. The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most powerful factions behind the Syrian rebels fighting to oust Bashar al-Assad, and Mr Morsi has urged the West to intervene on their behalf. With no little irony, Syria's Information Minister was quoted by the state news agency saying: "Egypt's crisis can be overcome if [Morsi] realises that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people reject him and are calling on him to go."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Brendan Rodgers is confident that Sterling will put pen to paper on a new deal at Anfield
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
Not quite what they were expecting

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...