Morsi Issues Final Word and a Concession on Military Ultimatum

Protesters against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Tahrir Square in Cairo

Rumors are circulating that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is either fleeing the country or under house arrest as the deadline set by the Egyptian military expires. Though it is dated June 3 (I'm presuming this is a typo), the president's office issued a statement (see below) which seems to be its final word on the ultimatum issued by Egypt's senior military leaders that the Morsi administration respond to the demands of his opposition, now taking to the streets and in Tahrir Square once again. The statement repeats some of the themes of Morsi's speech to supporters last night which rejected the ultimatum that he respond to protestors' demands and which hinted at violence and chaos to follow any attempt to remove him from office.

But the statement appears to include a concession, offering an interim coaltion government "to manage the rest of this phase" and suggests that parliamentary elections could be held within few months, "or to agree on the person of the Prime Minister by all factions." Morsi writes, "This is our vision to move forward. Let the Egyptians express their opinion through the ballot box." He adds: "The other scenario which some are trying to impose on the Egyptian people is not agreed on by the masses who filled the streets. It would disrupt the institution building process which we started. Whoever thinks that Egypt can go backwards by destroying the legitimacy of the constitution and the revolution and imposing the legitimacy of force on this noble Egyptian nation which tasted freedom or would not pay its blood as a price for protecting it, is mistaken. The Egyptian people will hold on to peacefulness of their revolution."

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In the statement released today, Morsi's administration charged that "overturning constitutional legitimacy threatens democracy by deviating from its right path, and threatens freedom of expression which Egypt enjoyed after the revolution." It said, "Legitimacy is the only guarantee for stability and confronting violence, vandalism, and breaking the law."

The statement suggested that the blame for the current chaos in Egypt rests with Morsi's secular, moderate Islamic and Christian oppossition. It says, "The Presidency holds responsible a number of political parties which previously boycotted all calls for dialogue and consensus, the last was this initiative which addresses all demands of the Egyptian street and prevents the nation’s sliding into political disputes which any Egyptian does not wish to see in his/her dear homeland. To protect the blood of Egyptians, the Presidency calls on all political and national forces to prioritize national interest above all other interests." 

Morsi wrote, "Everyone should be aware of an evident fact: the Egyptian people (both supporters and opponents) expressed themselves by taking to the streets in the past few days. Hundreds of thousands from both sides protested.

"One of the mistakes I cannot accept—as the President of all Egyptians—is to side with one party over another, or to present the scene from one side only. To be fair, we need to listen to the voice of people in all squares."

Three hours after Morsi's Tuesday night speech, the army posted a message online titled "The final hours"  and said it "is willing to die defending the Egyptian people from terrorists, radicals and fools." Even before the speech, the military had assumed control of the state’s flagship newspaper, Al Ahram, and used it to describe on today’s front page its plans to enforce the ultimatum: suspend the Islamist-backed constitution, dissolve the Islamist-dominated legislature and set up an interim administration headed by the country’s chief justice

 

Full statement below:

Egyptian Presidency: Press Release, June 3, 2013


The Egyptian Presidency renews its adherence to the roadmap to which all national forces were invited for the sake of comprehensive national reconciliation which would meet the demands of people and accommodate all national, youth and political forces and which would defuse the political tension in Egypt now. 

The Presidency affirms that overturning constitutional legitimacy threatens democracy by deviating from its right path, and threatens freedom of expression which Egypt enjoyed after the revolution. Legitimacy is the only guarantee for stability and confronting violence, vandalism, and breaking the law.

The Presidency’s vision includes the formation of a coalition government that would manage the upcoming Parliamentary electoral process, and the formation of an independent committee for constitutional amendments to submit to the upcoming parliament. 

The Presidency holds responsible a number of political parties which previously boycotted all calls for dialogue and consensus, the last was this initiative which addresses all demands of the Egyptian street and prevents the nation’s sliding into political disputes which any Egyptian does not wish to see in his/her dear homeland. To protect the blood of Egyptians, the Presidency calls on all political and national forces to prioritize national interest above all other interests. 

Everyone should be aware of an evident fact: the Egyptian people (both supporters and opponents) expressed themselves by taking to the streets in the past few days. Hundreds of thousands from both sides protested.

One of the mistakes I cannot accept -as the President of all Egyptians- is to side with one party over another, or to present the scene from one side only. To be fair, we need to listen to the voice of people in all squares. 

The Egyptian Presidency adopts a clear and safe roadmap based on constitutional legitimacy which Egyptians built together. The roadmap includes the formation of an interim coalition government on the basis of national partnership to manage the rest of this phase until parliamentary elections within few months, or to agree on the person of the Prime Minister by all factions. This is our vision to move forward. Let the Egyptians express their opinion through the ballot box. 

The other scenario which some are trying to impose on the Egyptian people is not agreed on by the masses who filled the streets. It would disrupt the institution building process which we started. Whoever thinks that Egypt can go backwards by destroying the legitimacy of the constitution and the revolution and imposing the legitimacy of force on this noble Egyptian nation which tasted freedom or would not pay its blood as a price for protecting it, is mistaken. The Egyptian people will hold on to peacefulness of their revolution. 

Let us protect our peacefulness, our nation, and our revolution. .

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