Five hours after its set deadline, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed the nation with a roadmap for Egypt’s political future, placing the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as head of the state until early presidential elections take place.
News had emerged earlier of a travel ban on leading Muslim Brotherhood members and rumors circulated of President Mohamed Morsi being placed under house arrest.
The new roadmap temporarily suspends the current Constitution, passed in a divisive referendum last December, and grants Adly Mansour, head of the SCC, the power to issue a constitutional declaration.
A committee will be formed to propose amendments on the suspended Constitution, and the SCC will pass an elections law to prepare for parliamentary elections.
A media code of honor will be drawn out and executive orders will be set to empower youth in the executive branch of state institutions.
There are also plans to form a national reconciliation committee.
“The Armed Forces could not stay silent before the Egyptian people, who called on it in its national capacity, and not in a political capacity,” Sisi said, adding that the military will stay away form politics.
“The Armed Forces saw that the Egyptian people called on it for protection … necessary protection of the revolution, and not to take over power,” he added.
In the last months, he said, the Armed Forces has worked “directly and indirectly” to contain the polarized domestic situation and to “strike reconciliation between different political players, including the presidency.”
“A call for national dialogue was held … but the presidency refused to join,” he added.
The Armed Forces, he said, met with the president in Qubba Palace on June 22, during which they rejected the disrespect shown to all state institutions and denounced the “terrorizing of the Egyptian people.”
“There was hope for national accord, but the word of the president [Tuesday] made no response to the demands of the people,” he said, “which left the Armed Forces consulting with the rest of the political forces and the youth, who agreed on a roadmap with primary steps to build a strong inclusive society.”
Earlier in the day, as the army deadline came and went and Morsi remained steadfast in his determination to stay in office, supporters and opponents of the president also refused to budge.
Anti-Morsi supporters flooded main protests sites in different governorates, while in Cairo they rallied at the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace, Qubba Palace, the Republican Guard headquarters and took over Tahrir Square.
Supporters of the president continued a rally at Cairo University, where violent clashes had erupted on Tuesday night leaving at least 16 dead, and a sit-in at Rabea al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City that began on Friday.
Morsi addressed the nation in a late night speech on Tuesday, saying that “there was no substitute to legitimacy” and that he would defend it with his blood if need be.
News of the travel ban on leading Brotherhood members was received with celebrations by anti-Morsi protesters, matched only by a level of indignation among the president’s supporters. Rumors of Morsi being placed under house arrest also provoked waves of joy and defiance at the different rallies.
Army tanks mobilized in different areas by midday, mostly surrounding pro-Morsi protests sites at Giza and Rabea al-Adaweya, aggravating an already tense situation.
Some protesters who were stopped form entering the sit-in shouted, “Down with military rule.”
Shots were fired in the air causing people in the area to run, but shortly after the situation was calm.
One protester at Rabea al-Adaweya, who described the latest moves as a counter revolution, said, “Tahrir was dying down but the military statement brought people back to the streets to celebrate.”