"CAIRO Tahrir Square exploded with joy Wednesday as troops and tanks seized control of key points in the Egyptian capital and the army announced that President Mohammed Morsi had been stripped of power and the constitution suspended.
The military was assisting in the formation an interim government, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a nationally televised address as senior generals sat beside him.
An interim council will rule with temporary powers until fresh presidential and parliamentary elections can be held, Sisi said.
The general called on the people to be peaceful and warned that it would firmly respond against anyone who did not behave peacefully.
Sisis announcement followed two days of high drama with huge demonstrations for and against the government and the militarys demand that Morsi compromise with the opposition.
The coup or revolution, as some protesters preferred to regard it was evident shortly after nightfall at the state television building. Troops in combat gear could clearly be seen around the gates and doors and in the lobby. Other army units were holding bridges leading to areas where Morsis supporters had gathered.
Its the best news. Its what we want, shouted Osama Abdelmaula over an incredible din of exploding firecrackers and jubilant screams. Army helicopters passed low overhead.
We can manage the (Muslim) Brotherhood now, said schoolteacher Ayman Mohammed Ahmed as he waved an Egyptian flag. We have made it clear we do not want them.
Morsi was told by the military Wednesday afternoon that he was no longer in power, state media reported.
Wednesdays developments were a stark rebuke to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, which won democratic elections June 30, 2012. But they have been hobbled ever since by complaints about an Islamist agenda and mishandling of the economy.
Wednesdays move by the army leaves western powers which tend to support democratically elected governments in a quandary. A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, for instance, neither condemned nor praised the armys action.
Canada urges all parties in Egypt to remain calm, avoid violence and engage in meaningful dialogue, said Rick Roth.
Canada firmly believes that implementing a transparent democratic system that respects the voices of its citizens, and that encourages and respects the contributions of civil society and all other segments of the population, including religious minorities, is the best way to restore calm and give all Egyptians a stake in the future stability and prosperity of Egypt.
U.S. officials, not authorized to speak on the record, said that Egyptian army had assured the U.S. it was not interested in a long-term rule.
Faced with an ultimatum from Egypts generals to compromise with the opposition and call fresh elections, Morsi had said in a speech on Tuesday that he and the Brotherhood would spill blood to protect themselves and their elected government.
Even before the announcement of the army takeover, clashes were reported outside Cairo, where the Islamist government remains much more popular than in the capital.
Key opposition leaders were to issue statements later Wednesday after a day of emergency meetings with the generals.
Morsi had stated 72 times in a speech Tuesday that he was the legitimate democratically elected leader of Egypt and that he needed more time to sort out the countrys grave political and economic problems.
I am prepared to sacrifice my blood for the sake of the security and stability of this homeland, Morsi said. The president categorically refused to agree to the militarys demand that his government work out a power-sharing deal with the opposition.
Sisi had issued a statement that the army was prepared to sacrifice its blood to save the country from an outbreak of terrorism.
After issuing its ultimatum on Monday, the military spoke of imposing its own road map, if its demands were not met.
Despite the thousands in the square, many Cairenes stayed close to home Wednesday.
We have a big fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will not accept this and that there will be civil war, said Sahar Emem, who works in marketing for a telecommunications company and was planning to be in Tahrir Square again later in the day. They have arms. We have nothing.
Emad Tarkhan, who owns a small business, had the same fear of bloodshed, but was confident that if widespread fighting broke out, the military would prevail.
The Brotherhood will fight the opposition, but they wont fight the army. They cant fight the army, Tarkhan said. President Morsi is finished.
After winning elections last June, Morsi had angered Egypts most secular middle class and supporters of the ousted military regime of Hosni Mubarak by pushing through a pro-fundamentalist constitution just as the already feeble economy collapsed.
Ive asked myself for a year why we elected Morsi, said Nourhan Tleba, who works for one of the nearly empty international hotels on the Nile. Still, Im surprised now how quickly things began to move against him last week.
A year ago people said, Perfect. We were getting someone who knew Allah and knew the Quran. But we have discovered there is a big difference between understanding our religion and running a country. You dont need to have someone tell you to pray, what to wear and that women should not work. I want a government that helps us economically.
The Associated Press reported that at least 23 people were killed earlier in the week in gun battles between Muslim Brotherhood and opposition supporters around the University of Cairo campus.
The opposition, which rejects political Islam, had called Wednesday for Morsi to be arrested for allegedly inciting civil war by refusing to agree to the armys ultimatum.
Since the military issued its ultimatum on Monday seven members of Morsis cabinet had resigned, as has the cabinets chief spokesman. The cabinet had also released a statement on Twitter condemning Morsis speech on Tuesday.
In another ominous sign that Morsis Islamist government was in deep trouble, the countrys second largest parliamentary force, the ultra conservative Nour Party, announced that it too wanted new elections.
But even now, Morsi is not without support. Millions of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned for decades during military rule, continue to back the president and his Islamist agenda. Whenever Morsis backers come across protesters who seek his ouster, violent clashes erupt.
With a file from Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News.
A CAIRO TIMELINE:
Here are some key events from more than two years of turmoil and transition:
Jan. 25-Feb. 11, 2011 Egyptians stage nationwide demonstrations against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of protesters are killed as Mubarak and his allies try to crush the uprising.
Feb. 11 Mubarak steps down and turns power over to the military. The military dissolves parliament and suspends the constitution, meeting two key demands of protesters.
March 19 In the first post-Mubarak vote, Egyptians cast ballots on constitutional amendments sponsored by the military. The measures are overwhelmingly approved.
Oct. 9 Troops crush a protest by Christians in Cairo over a church attack, killing more than 25 protesters.
Nov. 28, 2011-Feb 15, 2012 Egypt holds multi-stage, weeks-long parliamentary elections. In the lawmaking lower house, the Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats, and ultra-conservative Salafis take another quarter. The remainder goes to liberal, independent and secular politicians. In the largely powerless upper house, Islamists take nearly 90 per cent of the seats.
May 23-24, 2012 The first round of voting in presidential elections has a field of 13 candidates. Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak, emerge as the top two finishers, to face each other in a runoff.
June 14 The Supreme constitutional Court orders the dissolving of the lower house of Parliament.
June 16-17 Egyptians vote in the presidential runoff between Morsi and Shafiq. Morsi wins with 51.7 per cent of the vote.
June 30 Morsi takes his oath of office.
Aug. 12 Morsi orders the retirement of the top Mubarak-era leadership of the military.
Nov. 19 Members of liberal parties and representatives of Egypts churches withdraw from the 100-member assembly writing the constitution, protesting attempts by Islamists to impose their will.
Nov. 22 Morsi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, giving his decisions immunity from judicial review and barring the courts from dissolving the constituent assembly and the upper house of parliament. The move sparks days of protests.
Nov. 30 Islamists in the constituent assembly rush to complete the draft of the constitution. Morsi sets a Dec. 15 date for a referendum.
Dec. 4 More than 100,000 protesters march on the presidential palace, demanding the cancellation of the referendum and the writing of a new constitution. The next day, Islamists attack an anti-Morsi sit-in, sparking street battles that leave at least 10 dead.
Dec. 15, Dec. 22 In the two-round referendum, Egyptians approve the constitution, with 63.8 per cent voting in favour. Turnout is low.
Dec. 29 The Egyptian Central Bank announces that foreign reserves drained to $15 billion from $36 billion in 2010 have fallen to a critical minimum and tries to stop a sharp slide in the value of the Egyptian pound. It now stands at just over seven to the dollar, compared to 5.5 to the dollar in 2010.
Jan. 25, 2013 Hundreds of thousands hold protests against Morsi on the 2-year anniversary of the start of the revolt against Mubarak, and clashes erupt in many places.
Feb.-March 2013 Protests rage in Port Said and other cities for weeks, with dozens more dying in clashes.
April 7 A Muslim mob attacks the main cathedral of the Coptic Orthodox Church as Christians hold a funeral and protest there over four Christians killed in sectarian violence the day before. Pope Tawadros II publicly blames Morsi for failing to protect the building.
May 7 Morsi reshuffles his cabinet. Officials say the changes aim to finalize long-stalled negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a crucial $4.8 billion loan, which requires reductions to fuel and food subsidies. A deal on the loan has still not been reached.
June 23 A mob beats to death four Egyptian Shiites in a village on the outskirts of Cairo.
June 30 Millions of Egyptians demonstrate, calling for Morsi to step down. Eight people are killed in clashes outside the Muslim Brotherhoods Cairo headquarters.
July 1 Large-scale demonstrations continue, and Egypts powerful military gives the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve their disputes, or it will impose its own solution.
July 2 Military officials disclose main details of the armys plan if no agreement is reached: replacing Morsi with an interim administration, cancelling the Islamist-based constitution and calling elections in a year. Morsi delivers a late-night speech in which he pledges to defend his legitimacy and vows not to step down.
July 3 Deadline for Morsi and opponents to come to agreement passes, Morsi standing firm. The military chief meets with opposition and religious leaders. Morsi is deposed and the army takes over, promising new presidential elections.
From the Associated Press"
Love it. Obama looks like an idiot, Egypt isn't controlled by radical muslims. Win/win.