Egypt: Morsi’s final hours in power?

Reuters reports: President Mohamed Mursi clung to office on Tuesday after rebuffing an army ultimatum to force a resolution to Egypt’s political crisis, and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood sought to mass its supporters to defend him.

But the Islamist leader looked increasingly isolated, with ministers resigning, the liberal opposition refusing to talk to him and the armed forces, backed by millions of protesters in the street, giving him until Wednesday to agree to share power.

In a defiant 2 a.m. statement, Mursi’s office said the president had not been consulted before the armed forces chief-of-staff set a 48-hour deadline for a power-sharing deal and would pursue his own plan for national reconciliation.

Newspapers across the political spectrum saw the military ultimatum as a turning point. “Last 48 hours of Muslim Brotherhood rule,” the opposition daily El Watan declared. “Egypt awaits the army,” said the state-owned El Akhbar.

Al-Masry Al-Youm reports: Sovereign bodies have given instructions to security authorities at Cairo International Airport to prevent Muslim Brotherhood and Wasat Party leaders, as well as former members of the People’s Assembly and the Freedom and Justice Party, from traveling until they are given the green light, private news agency ONA reports.

The ban was imposed due to reports filed against them.

Sovereign bodies is a term that usually refers to senior security authorities, such as members of the Egyptian intelligence service.

Meanwhile, security authorities at the airport have said that no orders were given to seize the presidential plane or to prevent President Mohamed Morsy from traveling abroad.

Christopher Dickey reports: Many on the ground in Cairo regard this drama as little more than a military coup with well-orchestrated protests giving the army the pretext to make a move. But neither the anti-government demonstrators calling for the army to intervene nor the officers in the high command itself actually want the military to rule. The army’s interests have always been to maintain its independence, its prestige, and its highly profitable industries while avoiding the dirty business of running a nearly ungovernable country with an economy on the verge of implosion.

Robert Springborg at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, an authority on the Egyptian military, says the situation is further complicated by the disarray of the opposition, which has now proved, once again, it can gather people in the street but lacks the organization able to run a government. Springborg believes the military would like the Brotherhood-dominated government to make a host of concessions, including liberalization of the Constitution and opening the way to new elections. “I think Morsi himself is expendable,” says Springborg. “Morsi is now dead weight for them.”

But adding to the complications are possible divisions within the military itself, where al-Sisi is tainted by his past close cooperation with the once-fearsome and now feckless Islamist party. [Continue reading…]

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