Egyptians Ousted Morsi

 Egypt's president Muhammad Morsi was ousted by the military Wednesday, and  the armed forces announced they would install a temporary civilian government to replace  the Islamist President, who denounced the action as a "full coup" by the generals. They also suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution and called for new elections, according to AP.

Millions of anti-Morsi protesters around the country erupted in celebrations after the televised announcement by the army chief. Fireworks burst over crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where men and women danced, shouting, "God is great" and "Long live Egypt."

Fearing a violent reaction by Morsi's Islamist supporters, troops and armored vehicles deployed in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, surrounding Islamist rallies. Clashes erupted in several provincial cities when Islamists opened fire on police, with at least nine people killed, security officials said.

Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood party, said Morsi was under house arrest at a Presidential Guard facility where he had been residing, and 12 presidential aides also were under house arrest.

The army took control of state media and blacked out TV stations operated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The head of the Brotherhood's political wing was arrested.

AP commented that the  ouster of Morsi throws Egypt on an uncertain course, with a danger of further confrontation, after  four days of mass demonstrations

Egyptians were angered that Morsi was giving too much power to his Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists and had failed to tackle the country's mounting economic woes.

On Monday, army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had given Morsi an ultimatum to find a solution to meet the demands of anti-government demonstrators in 48 hours, but the 62-year-old former engineer defiantly insisted on his legitimacy from an election he won with 51.7 percent of the vote in June 2012.

Any deal was a near impossibility, however, making it inevitable the military would move.

As the deadline approached, el-Sissi met with pro-reform leader Mohammed ElBaradei, top Muslim cleric Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, as well as opposition activists and some members of the ultraconservative Salafi movements. The consultations apparently were aimed at bringing as wide a consensus as possible behind the army's moves.

The Brotherhood boycotted the session, according to its political arm the Freedom and Justice Party.

In a last-minute statement before the deadline, Morsi again rejected the military's intervention, saying abiding by his electoral legitimacy was the only way to prevent violence. He criticized the military for "taking only one side."

"One mistake that cannot be accepted, and I say this as president of all Egyptians, is to take sides," he said in the statement issued by his office. "Justice dictates that the voice of the masses from all squares should be heard," he said, repeating his offer to hold dialogue with his opponents.

"For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: Military coup," Morsi's top foreign policy adviser Essam al-Haddad wrote on his Facebook page.

After the deadline expired, el-Sissi went on state TV and said the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, would step in as interim president until new elections are held. Mansour was appointed to the court by Mubarak but elevated to the chief justice post by Morsi and will be sworn in Thursday by judges of his court.

 Flanked by Muslim and Christian clerics as well as El-Baradei and two opposition activists, el-Sissi said a government of technocrats would be formed with "full powers" to run the country.

He promised "not to exclude anyone or any movement" from further steps. But he did not define the length of the transition period or when presidential elections would be held. He also did not mention any role for the military.

The constitution, drafted by Morsi's Islamist allies, was "temporarily suspended," and a panel of experts and representatives of all political movements will consider amendments, el-Sissi said. He did not say whether a referendum would be held to ratify the changes, as customary.

"Don't ask me if I am happy. Just look around you at all those people, young and old. They are all happy," said 25-year-old Mohammed Nageh, shouting to be heard in Tahrir. "For the first time, people have really won their liberty."

A statement from Morsi's office's Twitter account quoted Morsi as saying the military's measures "represent a full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation."

The army insisted it is not carrying out a coup, but acting on the will of the people to clear the way for a new leadership. El-Sissi warned that the armed forces, police will deal "decisively" with violence.

Some of Morsi's Islamist backers, tens of thousands of whom took to the streets in recent days, have vowed to fight to the end, although he urged everyone "to adhere to peacefulness and avoid shedding blood of fellow countrymen."

Travel bans were imposed on Morsi and top figures from the Muslim Brotherhood including its chief Mohammed Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater. Officials said security forces had surrounded Badie inside a tourist compound where he had been staying in the Mediterranean coastal city of Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border.

A security official said Saad el-Katatni, the head of the Freedom and Justice Party, and Rashad Bayoumi, one of two deputies of the Brotherhood's top leader, were arrested early Thursday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

El-Haddad, the Brotherhood party's spokesman, said a list has been drawn up of hundreds of Brotherhood

Nearly 50 people have been killed in clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents since Sunday.

 

T. Fateh

Aoun, Abadi Renewed Support for Syria

BEIRUT,(ST)_ Lebanese head  of the Change and Reform Bloc and MP Michel Aoun  discussed with the Iranian ambassador in Lebanon Ghazanfar Abadi local and regional  developments and bilateral relations between the two countries.

"Views were identical on the need to support resistance against  the Zionist project , the people and government of Syria and the popular will provides for introducing  reforms under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad." Abadi said in a statement after yesterday's meeting.

He noted that  during the meeting stress was made on the need to maintain stability and security in general, particularly in Lebanon, solidarity with  resistance and to be aware of the Israeli project aims to spread discord in the region.

 

T. Fateh

Egyptian army removes Morsi

The head of the Egyptian army has appeared live on television, announcing the suspension of the constitution.

General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi, flanked by religious and military leaders, said the chief justice of constitutional court would take the powers of the presidency,according to the BBC.

His announcement means President Mohammed Morsi is no longer in power.

Anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square gave out a huge cheer in response to the speech.

The move follows four days of mass street protests against Mr Morsi, and an ultimatum issued by the military which expired on Wednesday afternoon.

After General Sisi's address, both Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Church, and leading opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei made short statements.

Mr Elbaradei said the new roadmap aimed for national reconciliation and represented a fresh start to the January 2011 revolution.

TV stations belonging to Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood went off air at the end of the speech.

M.D

Gaza blockade impedes Palestinian growth - UN

Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip has dramatically restricted the income of Palestinian families and hampered their development, a top UN official said on Wednesday.

"We see the dramatic impact on the people of Gaza because of the closure and blockade and how the income of these people has been dramatically restricted," UN humanitarian coordinator for Palestinian territories James W. Rowley told reporters during a visit to the enclave.

"These restrictions affect the poorest the most; they impede development of a sustainable economy and increase dependency on aid," he was also quoted as saying in a statement.

During his visit Palestinian farmers complained to Rowley how the blockade has affected their products,according to the Voice of Russia.

"Our products are always damaged because of the closure of the terminal. Our strawberries have to go through four or five stations before being sold through Karm abu Salem," an "Israeli terminal" for transporting goods from Gaza, farmer Ayman Subuh from Beit Lahia said.

"We hope your help will open markets in the West Bank for our products," Subuh told foreign diplomats, including the head of the delegation of the European Union in Palestinian territories John Gatt-Rutter, who accompanied Rowley on the visit." Israel" imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2006 and strengthened it a year later, after the coastal enclave fell into the hands of the Islamist Hamas.

R.S

Maliki Supports International Conference on Syria

MOSCOW,(ST)_ Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's stressed his country 's support for  holding an international conference on Syria in Geneva and settling  the crisis through dialogue, expressing his country's readiness to take part in  this conference.

"We support a seriously organized  international conference on Syria in Geneva and will participate in its work." Maliki told  reporters yesterday in Moscow.

 He stressed the need to resolve the crisis in Syria through dialogue table , warning that the failure of the international community to resolve the crisis will lead to regional and even global dispute  , saying that his country would suffer negative consequences because  of the crisis in Syria.

 Maliki expressed hope that the States  that will participate in the international conference on Syria  will be aware that supporting  one of the parties and sending it arms  will not solve the crisis.

 He added that his country believes in the importance of the participation of Iran and Saudi Arabia in the international conference on Syria, noting that as a result of the controversy over the composition of the participants in the conference has not been settled  yet.

Maliki continued that if you Russia and the US can not reach  a common position on the participants in the conference , it will be very difficult to convene the it.  " Washington and Moscow must  agree on that , and this is very important." He stressed.

He  considered that  accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons against the opposition might be  an attempt to pave the way for an invasion against Syria along the lines of the Iraqi scenario.

 

T. Fateh