- The Washington Times - Friday, July 5, 2013

Egypt's military continued cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood after swearing in the chief justice of the Constitutional Court as the country’s interim president Thursday, a day after overthrowing the North African nation’s first democratically elected leader.

“The most glorious thing about June 30 is that it brought together everyone without discrimination or division,” Chief Justice Adly Mansour said in his first remarks as interim president, praising the mass protests against Islamist President Mohammed Morsi that preceded his ouster. “I look forward to parliamentary and presidential elections held with the genuine and authentic will of the people.”

No date was set for elections.

Authorities said they were holding Mr. Morsi in an undisclosed location as they issued arrest warrants for key members of his Muslim Brotherhood, the former ruling party. At least a dozen of his senior aides and advisers are being held in what is described as house arrest.

Late Wednesday, security officials arrested Mohammed Badie, supreme leader of the Brotherhood, on charges of inciting violence in the deaths of six protesters outside the Islamist group’s Cairo headquarters. His deputy, Khairat el-Shater, also is wanted on inciting-violence charges.

According to security officials, also arrested are Mr. Badie’s predecessor as supreme leader, Mehdi Akef; Saad Katatni, the head of the Brotherhood’s political party; Rashad Bayoumi, one of Mr. Badie’s deputies; and ultraconservative Salafist leader Hazem Abu Ismail, who has a considerable street following.


SEE ALSO: Mohammed Morsi’s supporters call for a ‘Friday of Rage’ in Egypt


The Brotherhood has reacted defiantly, announcing it would boycott the political road map outlined Wednesday by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. However, the Islamist group called on supporters staging a sit-in in Cairo to refrain from violence.

“We declare our complete rejection of the military coup stage against the elected president and the will of the nation,” Abdel-Rahman el-Barr, a Brotherhood leader, said a in statement. “We refuse to participate in any activities with the usurping authorities.”

Egyptian authorities have issued warrants for more than 200 Brotherhood members and leaders of other Islamist groups, according to The Associated Press. The Brotherhood was banned for most of its 83-year existence, but it has been decades since its supreme leader was put in a prison.

Egyptian Army spokesman Col. Ahmed Ali told Daily News Egypt that Muslim Brotherhood members have not been arrested unless they were deemed to have broken the law.

According to the Egyptian news outlet, the Ministry of Health said Thursday that 11 people were killed and 516 injured at rallies Wednesday evening after the military’s announcement of Mr. Morsi’s ouster.

Mr. Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president on June 30, 2012, after mass protests had prompted the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

In November, Mr. Morsi unilaterally decreed greater powers for himself, gave his decisions immunity from judicial review, barred the courts from dissolving the legislature and pushed through a constitution drafted by his Islamist allies.

Protesters accused Mr. Morsi of trying to consolidate power, undermine state institutions and ignore Egypt’s worsening economic and security problems.

On Monday, Gen. al-Sisi gave Mr. Morsi and the opposition a 48-hour ultimatum to resolve the political crisis. He said the armed forces had been urging a national dialogue since November, but Mr. Morsi ignored those calls.

Some Egypt analysts have reacted skeptically on whether the military’s intervention will lead to a democratic transition in Egypt.

“It’s possible for a military coup to advance democratic development, but it’s rare, and the bar is pretty high,” Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution, said Thursday in a analysis column.

“The burden is heavy now on the Egyptian military to demonstrate that the new transitional authority can and will govern in a transparent, restrained manner, and move the country swiftly back to democratic rule,” wrote Mrs. Wittes, director of Brooking’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Gen. el-Sissi’s road map includes the suspension of the Islamist-drafted constitution and the establishment of a civilian Cabinet of technocrats to run Egypt until presidential elections are held.

President Obama issued a statement saying U.S. officials “are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution.”

“I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters,” the statement said.

U.S. officials have so far not used the word “coup” to describe Mr. Morsi’s ouster, since the United States’ annual $1.5 billion aid to Egypt would have to be halted in the case of a military coup.

“I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt,” Mr. Obama said.

Mrs. Wittes said that language is a warning to the Egyptian military.

“The law should be swiftly invoked in the Egyptian case, and used to hold the Egyptian military accountable for swift progress on their transition roadmap,” she said.

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