The Egyptian army erected barbed wire and barriers around a barracks where embattled President Mohamed Morsi was working and deployed armoured vehicles and troops to prevent his supporters marching from a nearby rally to his palace.
India Today A Reuters journalist saw troops move into place close to the Rabaa Adaweya mosque area, where tens of thousands of supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood are rallied to support the democratically elected president and what they call constitutional legitimacy.
The army said in an official statement that it was security the area and denied what it said were reports that it was attacking Morsi’s supporters, saying: “The Egyptian army belongs to all Egyptians.”
However, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s national security adviser said a military coup was under way on Wednesday after an army deadline for the Islamist leader to yield to street protests passed without any agreement.
In a show of force, several hundred soldiers with armoured vehicles staged a parade on a main road near the presidential palace, and security sources said Morsi and the entire senior leadership of his Muslim Brotherhood were banned from leaving the country.
“For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: military coup,” national security adviser Essam El-Haddad said in a statement, warning of “considerable bloodshed.”
Military chiefs, vowing to restore order in a country racked by protests over Morsi’s Islamist policies, earlier issued a call to battle in a statement headlined “The Final Hours”. They said they were willing to shed blood against “terrorists and fools” after Morsi refused to give up his elected office.
In a last-ditch statement a few minutes before the deadline, Morsi’s office said a coalition government could be part of a solution to overcome the political crisis. But opposition parties refused to negotiate with him and met instead with the commander of the armed forces.
As the ultimatum expired, hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir Square in central Cairo let off fireworks, cheered and waved Egyptian flags in celebration. There was no immediate comment from the armed forces, and a spokesman said no fixed time had been set for a statement. Egyptian blogger Su Zee tweeted: “And in typical Egyptian fashion, #egypt is late for its own coup.”
The massive protests showed that the Brotherhood had not only alienated liberals and secularists by seeking to entrench Islamic rule, notably in a new constitution, but had also angered millions of Egyptians with economic mismanagement.
Tourism and investment have dried up, inflation is rampant and fuel supplies are running short, with power cuts lengthening in the summer heat and motorists spending hours fuelling cars.
Less than three hours before the deadline for Morsi to agree to share power or make way for an army-imposed solution, the president’s spokesman said it was better that he die in defence of democracy than be blamed by history.
Armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held a lengthy meeting with the main liberal opposition leader, Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, the top Muslim and Christian religious authorities and leaders of smaller Islamist parties and of the youth protest movement that led the anti-Morsi protests, the military said.
The Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, refused an invitation to meet Sisi, saying it only recognised the elected president.