Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Egypt's President Morsi ousted in military coup

Fireworks light the sky opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi celebrate in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Fireworks light the sky opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi celebrate in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Fireworks light the sky as opponents of Egypt's Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi celebrate outside the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, July 3, 2013. A statement on the Egyptian president's office's Twitter account has quoted Mohammed Morsi as calling military measures "a full coup." The denouncement was posted shortly after the Egyptian military announced it was ousting Morsi, who was Egypt's first freely elected leader but drew ire with his Islamist leanings. The military says it has replaced him with the chief justice of the Supreme constitutional Court, called for early presidential election and suspended the Islamist-backed constitution. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 03: Fireworks and shouts of joy emanate from Tahrir Square after a broadcast by the head of the Egyptian military confirming that they will temporarily be taking over from the country's first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi on July 3, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. As unrest spreads throughout the country, at least 23 people were killed in Cairo on Tuesday and over 200 others were injured. It has been reported that the military has taken over the state television. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 03: Fireworks and shouts of joy emanate from Tahrir Square after a broadcast by the head of the Egyptian military confirming that they will temporarily be taking over from the country's first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi on July 3, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. As unrest spreads throughout the country, at least 23 people were killed in Cairo on Tuesday and over 200 others were injured. It has been reported that the military has taken over the state television. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters celebrate in Tahrir Square as the deadline given by the military to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi passes on July 3, 2013
Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters celebrate in Tahrir Square as the deadline given by the military to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi passes on July 3, 2013
Opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi protest as they shout slogans and wave national flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate at the Rabaa al Adawiya Mosque in the suburb of Nasr City on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: A poster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi adorns a van during a demonstration at the Rabaa al Adawiya Mosque in the suburb of Nasr City on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi pray during a demonstration at the Rabaa al Adawiya Mosque in the suburb of Nasr City on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate at the Rabaa al Adawiya Mosque in the suburb of Nasr City on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate at the Rabaa al Adawiya Mosque in the suburb of Nasr City on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: A supporter of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi wears a pendant showing Morsi during a demonstration at the Rabaa al Adawiya Mosque in the suburb of Nasr City on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi demonstrate at the Rabaa al Adawiya Mosque in the suburb of Nasr City on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - JULY 2: Egyptian opposition protesters demonstrate at the Egyptian Presidential Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis on July 2, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. In a statement on July 1, the Egyptian Army asked Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to resolve mass demonstrations against his continued rule or face intervention by the military within 48 hours. Crowds of pro- and anti-government protesters gathered in locations across Egypt on June 30, the day of a series of nation-wide mass demonstrations entitled 'Tamarod', or 'Rebel'. The 'Tamarod' campaign, organised by a coalition of opposition political groups and planned to take place on the first anniversary of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's election to the country's Presidency, aims to bring down the government of President Morsi through country-wide demonstrations. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
Thousands of Egyptian opponents of Egyptian Islamist President Mohammed Morsi protest as they shout slogans and wave national flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. With a military deadline for intervention ticking down, hundreds of thousands of protesters seeking the ouster of Egypt's Islamist president sought Tuesday to push the embattled leader further toward the edge with another massive show of resolve and unity. Arabic read, "Leave, we are back to the square." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi train with sticks outside of the Rabia el-Adawiya mosque near the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Egypt was on edge Tuesday following a 'last-chance' ultimatum the military issued to Mohammed Morsi, giving the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve the crisis in the country or have the army step in with its own plan. Protesters seeking the ouster of the Islamist president remained camped out at Cairo's Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising, gearing up for a third day of anti-Morsi rallies. Across town, Morsi's Islamist backers have hunkered down at their own rally site, vowing to resist what they depict as a threat of a coup against a legitimately elected president. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi hold sticks and wear protective gear during training outside of the Rabia el-Adawiya mosque near the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Egypt was on edge Tuesday following a 'last-chance' ultimatum the military issued to Mohammed Morsi, giving the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve the crisis in the country or have the army step in with its own plan. Protesters seeking the ouster of the Islamist president remained camped out at Cairo's Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising, gearing up for a third day of anti-Morsi rallies. Across town, Morsi's Islamist backers have hunkered down at their own rally site, vowing to resist what they depict as a threat of a coup against a legitimately elected president. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi camp out as they protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Egypt was on edge Tuesday following a "last-chance" ultimatum the military issued to Mohammed Morsi, giving the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve the crisis in the country or have the army step in with its own plan. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi march in formation with sticks and protective gear outside of the Rabia el-Adawiya mosque near the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Egypt was on edge Tuesday following a "last-chance" ultimatum the military issued to Mohammed Morsi, giving the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve the crisis in the country or have the army step in with its own plan. Protesters seeking the ouster of the Islamist president remained camped out at Cairo's Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising, gearing up for a third day of anti-Morsi rallies. Across town, Morsi's Islamist backers have hunkered down at their own rally site, vowing to resist what they depict as a threat of a coup against a legitimately elected president. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi wave national flags and his posters during a rally in Nasser City, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 1, 2013. Egypt's powerful military warned on Monday it will intervene if the Islamist president doesn't 'meet the people's demands,' giving him and his opponents two days to reach an agreement in what it called a last chance. Hundreds of thousands of protesters massed for a second day calling on Mohammed Morsi to step down. Arabic reads " Mohammed Morsi for Egyptian presidency. " (AP Photo/ Amr Nabil)
In this photo released by the Egyptian Presidency Monday, July 1, 2013, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, right, meets with Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, center, and Egyptian Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's powerful military warned on Monday it will intervene if the Islamist president doesn't "meet the people's demands," giving him and his opponents two days to reach an agreement in what it called a last chance. Hundreds of thousands of protesters massed for a second day calling on Mohammed Morsi to step down.(AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency)
An opponent of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi waves an Egyptian national flag during a protest outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 1, 2013. Egypt's military on Monday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Islamist president and his opponents to reach an agreement to "meet the people's demands" or it will intervene to put forward a political road map for the country and ensure it is carried out. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi waves Egyptian national flags during a protest outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 1, 2013, after Egypt's military issued an ultimatum. Egypt's military on Monday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Islamist president and his opponents to reach an agreement to "meet the people's demands" or it will intervene to put forward a political road map for the country and ensure it is carried out. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Egyptian protesters gather in Tahrir Square for the second day against Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Egypt's powerful military warned on Monday it will intervene if the Islamist president doesn't "meet the people's demands," giving him and his opponents two days to reach an agreement in what it called a last chance. Hundreds of thousands of protesters massed for a second day calling on Mohammed Morsi to step down. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo)
Opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi react after Egypt's military issued an ultimatum, outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 1, 2013. Egypt's military on Monday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Islamist president and his opponents to reach an agreement to "meet the people's demands" or it will intervene to put forward a political road map for the country and ensure it is carried out. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
An Egyptian woman chants slogans, as protesters ransack the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Muqattam district in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Protesters stormed and ransacked the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group early Monday, in an attack that could spark more violence as demonstrators gear up for a second day of mass rallies aimed at forcing the Islamist leader from power. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
An Egyptian protester leaps over burned debris at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Muqattam district in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Protesters stormed and ransacked the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group early Monday, in an attack that could spark more violence as demonstrators gear up for a second day of mass rallies aimed at forcing the Islamist leader from power. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Egyptian protesters attack the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Muqattam district in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Protesters stormed and ransacked the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group early Monday, in an attack that could spark more violence as demonstrators gear up for a second day of mass rallies aimed at forcing the Islamist leader from power. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A protester holds an Egyptian national flag as he and others attack the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Muqattam district in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Protesters stormed and ransacked the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group early Monday, in an attack that could spark more violence as demonstrators gear up for a second day of mass rallies aimed at forcing the Islamist leader from power. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A protester waves an Egyptian national flag as others ransack the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Muqatam district in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Protesters stormed and ransacked the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group early Monday, in an attack that could spark more violence as demonstrators gear up for a second day of mass rallies aimed at forcing the Islamist leader from power. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Egyptian protesters ransack the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Muqatam district in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Protesters stormed and ransacked the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group early Monday, in an attack that could spark more violence as demonstrators gear up for a second day of mass rallies aimed at forcing the Islamist leader from power. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Egyptian protesters ransack the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in the Muqatam district in Cairo, Monday, July 1, 2013. Protesters stormed and ransacked the headquarters of President Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group early Monday, in an attack that could spark more violence as demonstrators gear up for a second day of mass rallies aimed at forcing the Islamist leader from power. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

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.

 

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."

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