Egyptian army ultimatum expires; Morsi defiant (Updated: Military ousts Morsi, suspends constitution)
Both sides have pledged their blood to get their way so it looks like they are going to get their wish.
The 3:00 PM deadline in Cairo has passed and President Moihammed Morsi is still in power. But for how long? Reports from Cairo say that armed soldiers have taken over the state-run TV studios and that the army is in talks with the opposition.
The military beefed up its presence inside the mammoth headquarters of state television on the banks of the Nile River in central Cairo. Crack troops were deployed in news-production areas. Officers from the army's media department moved inside the newsroom and were monitoring output, though not yet interfering, staffers said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the arrangements.
The state TV is run by the information minister, a Muslim Brotherhood member put in the post by Morsi, and its coverage had largely been in favor of the government. But already in the past two days, the coverage saw a marked shift, with more balanced reporting showing the anti-Morsi protests along with pro-Morsi ones. State radio has seen a similar shift.
The authoritative, state-run Al-Ahram newspaper - which also seemed to be following a military line - reported that the military had placed several leaders of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood under surveillance and issued a foreign travel ban on the Islamist group's top leaders.
The head of the army, Defense Minsiter Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, held a group meeting with leading reform advocate Mohammed ElBaradei, Egypt's top Muslim cleric - Al-Azhar Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb - and Coptic Pope Tawadros II to discuss its political road map, a spokesman for the senior opposition National Democratic Front, Khaled Daoud, said on state TV.
Also attending the meeting were a representative of the new youth movement behind this week's protests and some members of the ultraconservative Salafi movements, a defense ministry official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Under a plan leaked to state media, the military would install a new interim leadership, the Islamist-backed constitution suspended and the Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved.
Even as the clock ticked down toward the military's deadline, Morsi has remained defiant. In a speech late Tuesday night, he vowed not to step down and pledged to defend his legitimacy with his life in the face of the massive street protests.
At least 39 people have died since the protests began on Sunday.
At least 16 people were killed at Cairo University and dozens injured in clashes between pro and anti Morsi forces. The government health ministry reports dozens of rapes in Tahrir Square as well as 4 dead from running battles between the two sides.
With 6 of his closest advisors resigning - including the foreign minister - it appears that Morsi is doomed. We'll update this post today as events warrant.
Well, that was quick:
Egypt's top military commander says the army is now in full control of the country and President Mohammed Morsi has been replaced by the chief justice of the constitutional court as the interim head of state.
He made the announcements in a Wednesday night speech -- the latest twist in an all-out power struggle inside Egypt that Morsi's national security adviser is describing as a military coup.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said the country's constitution has been temporarily suspended and Morsi has failed to meet the demands of Egypt's people.
Fireworks and cheers erupted from the millions gathered in Tahrir Square after the announcement was made.
Top military officials and opposition leaders met Wednesday and agreed on a political roadmap for the country's future, el-Sissi said. A new presidential cabinet will be formed as well as a national reconciliation committee, which will include youth movements that have been behind anti-Morsi demonstrations.
Morsi's response was not immediately known, but an aide says he has been moved to an undisclosed location.
The Obama administration will portray this as part of the democratic process because if they said it was a coup. they'd have to deny the Egyptian army $1.5 billion in military aid. As Morsi's main enablers in the world, especially rhetorically, the Obama administration will have blood on its hands if this transition gets out of hand.
And make no mistake, we're still in the early stages of whatever is going to happen. The miltary is going to have to clear the streets of protestors and Morsi supporters have said they aren't going anywhere. And no one knows what the Brotherhood has planned as far as resistance is concerned. Will they resort to terrorism? It's not out of the question.
But unless something equally shocking happens to bring Morsi back to power, the president is toast.