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Updated: Thu, 04 Jul 2013 12:19:45 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Egypt's miltary cracks down on Muslim Brotherhood



Egypt's miltary cracks down on Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt's military is cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood with arrests of its leadership and the seizure of its TV station, as the military replaced ousted elected president Mohammed Morsi with a senior judge who will lead an interim caretaker government.

Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader Mohammed Badie was arrested Wednesday night in a Mediterranean coastal city west of Cairo near the Libyan border, Egyptian officials said.

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The officials spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Badie, who was flown to Cairo in a military helicopter, is on a wanted list of more than 200 Brotherhood officials, including his deputy Khairat el-Shater, and leaders of other Islamist groups. Ousted president Morsi was part of the Brotherhood.

The country's official news agency said Badie and el-Shater were being sought for questioning about their role in the killing of eight protesters in clashes outside the group's Cairo headquarters. The two men were believed by the opposition to be the true power in the Morsi administration.

The military has also taken the Brotherhood's TV station off the air.

"Clearly, it's a pretty strong clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and certainly one that is likely to eventually draw some kind of reaction," CBC reporter Nahlah Ayed said from Cairo.

So far, the Brotherhood has announced it would boycott the new military-sponsored political process and called on its supporters to restrain themselves and not use violence.

The powerful and well-organized Brotherhood has dominated the political scene since the 2011 removal of president Hosni Mubarak

New interim leader

Earlier Thursday, Supreme Constitutional Court Chief Justice Adly Mansour took a leadership oath in a small room surrounded by just a handful people in the Cairo court beside the Nile, replacing Egypt's first freely elected leader after only a year in office.

The judge and now interim leader, speaking on live TV, praised the protesters who began holding massive demonstrations four days ago in a bid to oust Morsi, saying they had united Egyptians.

"The most glorious thing about June 30 is that it brought together everyone without discrimination or division," he said. "I offer my greetings to the revolutionary people of Egypt."

Ayed said that the new president saluted protesters, youth, and the military. The military was notably absent from the ceremony.

"He said that the Egyptian people have proved to the world that they do not bend. He declared the era of dictators in Egypt over."

Mansour's short speech was met with long applause and cheering in the chamber where the oath took place, she said.

In sparsely populated Tahrir Square — the epicentre of both the country's 2011 revolution and this week's protests — Egyptians reacted to the swearing in with honking and fireworks. Military jets with contrails in the colours of the Egyptian flag flew overhead.

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Ayed said Mansour is not well known to the outside world, but is known in Egypt. A lawyer, he became head of the constitutional court a few months ago.

According to military decree, Mansour will serve as Egypt's interim leader until a new president is elected. A date for that vote has yet to be set. Morsi is under house arrest at an undisclosed location.

He was ousted after the military's 48-hour ultimatum to share power or step down expired Wednesday afternoon local time. CBC's Derek Stoffel, also in Cairo, reported that Egypt's health ministry says 10 people were killed and 481 injured in clashes after the coup, meaning around 50 people have been killed since the new round of protests began.

Ayed said there is a sense of urgency in the country and that new elections could happen quickly, within a few months.

'Will of the people'

The clock started ticking for Morsi when millions took to the streets on Sunday to demand he resign a year after he was elected. They accused his Muslim Brotherhood of hijacking the 2011 democratic revolution, entrenching its power and failing to revive the economy.

That gave armed forces chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who already had his own reservations about the state of the nation under Morsi, a justification to invoke the "will of the people" and demand the president share power or step aside.

The United States and other Western allies had also pressed Morsi hard to open his administration to a broader mix of ideas.

Morsi denounced the military's actions as a "full coup."

Before his ouster, Morsi railed on television about his electoral legitimacy. He called his liberal opponents bad losers, in league with those secretly still loyal to Mubarak. Liberal leaders said he was "losing his mind" and met to agree on a plan with Sissi.

What was unveiled by the general, in full uniform, flanked by politicians, officers and clergy, was a road map to wipe clear a slate of messy democratic reforms enacted since Mubarak fell.

An interim government will be formed, along with a panel for national reconciliation. The constitution will be reviewed, presidential and parliamentary elections arranged.

There was no timetable. Liberal chief negotiator Mohamed ElBaradei, a former UN nuclear agency chief, said the plan would "continue the revolution" of 2011. Many hope they can have more electoral success than last year, when the Brotherhood's organization dominated the elections.

Even with an interim leader in place, Egypt remains on an uncertain course after Morsi's ouster, and the possibility of further confrontation looms. Beyond the fears about violence, some protesters are concerned whether an army-installed administration can lead to real democracy.

Canada reacts

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s press secretary issued a statement on Wednesday, saying "Canada urges all parties in Egypt to remain calm, avoid violence and engage in meaningful dialogue.

"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."

- Why the U.S. doesn't call Egypt military's ouster of Morsi a coup

U.S. President Barack Obama was cautious in his response, acknowledging the "legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people" while also observing that Morsi, an Islamist, won his office in a legitimate election.

He notably stopped short of labelling Morsi's ouster a coup, leaving himself some wiggle room to navigate a U.S. law that says its government must suspend foreign aid to any country whose elected leader is ousted in a coup d'etat.

David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, told CBC News that the most important thing is that the U.S. supports inclusive, democratic governments.

"We hope that there will be no violence, we hope that there will not be unnecessary arrests, and we hope that an inclusive, democratic government will be re-installed as soon as possible," Jacobson said.

With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

External Links

Muslim Brotherhood's English language site

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