July 3, 2013

Head of ousted president's party, deputy, arrested in Egypt

The Associated Press

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Opponents of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi shout slogans and wave a national flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday. The Arabic says, "leave."

The Associated Press

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An Egyptian opposition protester is beaten by supporters of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, as a main raises a brick overhead, in downtown Damietta, Egypt, on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

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The army has insisted it is not carrying out a coup, but acting on the will of the people to clear the way for a new leadership. 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.

But on Wednesday it clearly was positioning itself to maintain control during any unrest sparked by a move on Morsi.

The military beefed up its presence inside the mammoth headquarters of state TV on the banks of the Nile 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.

State TV is run by the information minister, a Muslim Brotherhood member appointed by Morsi, and its coverage had largely been in favor of the government. But in the past two days, the coverage saw a marked shift, with more balanced reporting showing anti-Morsi protests along with those supporting him. State radio has seen a similar shift.

The 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.

Airport officials said screening departing passengers has been tightened to ensure leaders of the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups don't slip out with the help of sympathetic airport employees.

In a speech late Tuesday night, Morsi vowed not to step down and pledged to defend his legitimacy with his life in the face of the massive street protests.

Morsi demanded that the powerful armed forces withdraw their ultimatum, saying he rejected all "dictates" – from home or abroad. The army said if no agreement is reached between Morsi and the opposition it would intervene to implement a political road map of its own.

In his emotional, 46-minute address aired live to the nation late Tuesday, the Islamist leader accused loyalists of his ousted autocratic predecessor Hosni Mubarak of exploiting the wave of protests to topple his regime and thwart democracy.

"There is no substitute for legitimacy," said Morsi, at times angrily raising his voice, thrusting his fist in the air and pounding the podium. He warned that electoral and constitutional legitimacy "is the only guarantee against violence."

The speech showed that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are prepared to run the risk of challenging the army. It also entrenches the lines of confrontation between his Islamist supporters and Egyptians angry over what they see as his efforts to impose control through the Brotherhood and his failures to deal with the country's multiple problems.

The Interior Ministry, in charge of the police, increased the pressure on Morsi. It pledged in a statement to stand by and protect the protesters against violence. "We are all the Egyptians, and at the face of the military, we are standing," they screamed.

Mahmoud Badr, spokesman for Tamarod, or Rebel – the youth movement behind the latest rallies – called on anti-Morsi protesters to demonstrate outside three presidential palaces as well as the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guard, an army branch that protects the president, his family and their residences and offices. Morsi is thought to have been working at the Republican Guard headquarters since the start of the protests.

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Supporters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a rally in Nasser City, Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday. The green card with Arabic reads, "stay where you are."

The Associated Press

  


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