Egyptian army overthrows president

The Egyptian army removed president Mohammed Morsi from power on Wednesday 3 July, following a military ultimatum which expired earlier that day. In a televised address, army chief General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi announced the suspension of the Egyptian constitution and promised fresh elections, without specifying an election date.

Adly Mansour, the newly-elected head of the constitutional court, is expected to be sworn in as interim president on 4 July. General Sisi, who was appointed by Morsi last August, said that during the transitional period the interim leader would have the right to introduce laws.

The military's ousting of the Islamist president followed four days of anti-Morsi street protests during which up to 40 people died, and months of political turmoil. The move saw Egypt's first democratically-elected president deposed almost exactly a year after assuming office on 30 June 2012, after an election in which he won 51.7 per cent of the vote in a runoff against Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister to serve under ousted former president Hosni Mubarak.

On the night of 2 July Morsi addressed the nation in a televised speech, in which he rejected the army's ultimatum to step down as leader by 3 July. A defiant Morsi refused to resign and pledged to protect his "constitutional legitimacy" with his life.

Following the general's speech, soldiers acted quickly to contain Morsi's enraged supporters who denounced the move as a military coup – a charge flatly denied by the army – and claimed that Morsi and his "entire presidential team" were being held under house arrest. However there were jubilant scenes as Morsi's opponents – mostly liberal and secular Egyptians – celebrated throughout the night in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolution that swept away Morsi's predecessor Mubarak two and a half years ago.

Opponents of Morsi have accused him of being increasingly autocratic, of overly-empowering Islamists at the expense of other members of society, and of being an incompetent leader.

In the immediate aftermath of Sisi's speech, three satellite television channels connected to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement were shut down. The general also announced the implementation of a new media “code of ethics” as part of the nation’s path forward, establishing “values and ethics for the media to follow.”

Prominent opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei described the military’s move as “a new start” for the nation that would allow its citizens “to regain their freedom and dignity.”

However some political analysts have warned that the army's removal of a democratically-elected leader does not bode well for democracy, and could set a precedent for future presidents. US president Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned" by events in Egypt and called for a swift return to civilian rule.

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