Friday, July 05, 2013

President Mohamed Morsi's Final Days

The army chief came to President Mohammed Morsi with a simple demand: Step down on your own.

"Over my dead body!" Morsi replied to General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Monday, two days before the army eventually ousted him after a year in office.
In the end, Egypt's first freely elected president found himself isolated, abandoned by allies and no one in the army or police willing to support him.
Even his Republican Guards simply stepped away as army commandos came to take him to an undisclosed defence ministry facility, according to army, security and Muslim Brotherhood officials, who gave the Associated Press an account of Morsi's final hours in office.
The Muslim Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming for Morsi as early as 23 June – a week before the opposition planned its first big protest. The military gave the president seven days to work out his differences with the opposition.
There was such distrust between Morsi and the security agencies that they began withholding information from him – deploying troops and armour in cities without his knowledge.
Police also refused to protect Muslim Brotherhood offices that came under attack in the latest wave of protests.
Therefore, when Morsi was fighting for his survival, there was no one to turn to, except calling for outside help through western ambassadors and a small coterie of aides from the Brotherhood who could do little more than help him record two last-minute speeches.
A Brotherhood spokesman, Murad Ali, said the military had already decided that Morsi had to go, and Sisi would not entertain any of the concessions that the president was prepared to make.
"We were naive ... We didn't imagine betrayal would go this far," Ali said.
"It was like, 'either we put you in jail, or you come out and announce you are resigning,'" Ali added.
Brotherhood officials said they saw the end coming.
"We knew it was over on 23 June. Western ambassadors told us that," said another Brotherhood spokesman. US ambassador Anne Patterson was one of the envoys, he added.
Morsi searched for allies in the army, ordering two top aides – Asaad el-Sheikh and Rifaah el-Tahtawy – to establish contact with potentially sympathetic officers in the 2nd Field Army based in Port Said and Ismailia on the Suez Canal.
The objective was to find a bargaining chip to use with Sisi, security officials with firsthand knowledge of the contacts said.
There were no signs that Morsi's overtures had any effect, but Sisi, on learning of the contacts, took no chances. He issued directives to all unit commanders not to engage in any contacts with the presidential palace and, as a precaution, dispatched elite troops to units whose commanders had been contacted by Morsi's aides.
The next day, he and his family moved into the Cairo headquarters of the Republican Guards, an army branch that protects the president.
According to the usually authoritative newspaper Al-Ahram, Morsi was offered safe passage to Turkey, Libya or elsewhere, but he declined. He also was offered immunity from prosecution if he voluntarily stepped down.
Morsi gave a speech late on Tuesday in which he vowed to stay in power and urged supporters to fight to protect his legitimacy.
Soon after, Sisi placed him under "confinement" in the Republican Guard headquarters. The next day the military's deadline to Morsi expired. At 5am troops began deploying across major cities and the military posted videos of the movements to its Facebook page in a bid to reassure the public. Republican Guards assigned to the president and his aides walked away at midday and army commandos arrived.
There was no commotion and Morsi went quietly. That evening, Sisi announced Morsi's removal.

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