A “military coup” was under way after the expiration of a military ultimatum for Islamist President Mohammed Mursi to resolve Egypt’s political crisis, Mursi’s aide said on Wednesday.
The president, along with his entire senior entourage, was banned from leaving Egypt, said national security adviser Essam El-Haddad, according to Reuters.
Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie and Mursi’s deputy Khairat al-Shater were among those not allowed to leave the country.
There were reports of hundreds of military men – with armored vehicles – performing a parade on a main road near the presidential palace.
The military deployed its vehicles near pro-Mursi demonstrations in Cairo but denied it attacked them, AFP reported.
The army said it was securing the area only.
The official MENA news agency quoted a senior security official as saying that armored vehicles were deployed in the capital's Heliopolis and Nasr City neighborhoods, where other protests were being held.
“For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: military coup,” El-Haddad said in a statement, warning of “considerable bloodshed.”
Yasser Haddara, a presidential aide, said Mursi was still working at the Republican Guard barracks in Cairo, but it was not yet clear whether he was free to leave.
The president’s message to his supporters was to resist the “military coup” in a peaceful manner and not use violence against Egyptian authorities, Haddara said.
However, there was no immediate sign that the army will forcefully remove the Islamist president.
Minutes before the military deadline, Mursi’s office called for a coalition government in order to overcome the political crisis.
“The presidency envisions the formation of a consensus coalition government to oversee the next parliamentary election,” Mursi's office said in a statement on Facebook.
Meanwhile, opposition parties refused to negotiate with the president and, instead, met with the armed forces chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The military chief met with the main opposition leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, high-ranking Muslim and Christian leaders as well as the youth protest movement, Tamarod, that spearheaded the anti-Mursi protests.
Meanwhile, the Freedom and Justice party – which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood from which Mursi hails – refused to meet with Sisi, saying that it only recognized the elected president.
A Brotherhood-owned TV station broadcast pro-Mursi protests, the biggest of which was in a Cairo suburb where tens of thousands of demonstrators were present.
At least 37 people have been killed and 1600 wounded in violence since Tuesday night, Al Arabiya’s correspondent reports.
The Islamist accused the Egyptian authorities of opening fire on a pro-Mursi demonstration overnight near Cairo University. However, the interior minister said that an investigation into the incident was underway.
(With Reuters, AFP)
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