July 4, 2013

JURIST SWORN IN TO LEAD EGYPT TRANSITION

[The arrests appeared to be part of a broadening crackdown on Mr. Morsi and his political allies that included the arrests of dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members. Al Ahram, the English-language Web site of the state newspaper, said those taken into custody included Saad El-Katatni, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and Rashad Bayoumi, the deputy head of the Islamist movement.]
European Pressphoto Agency
Adli Mansour, center, spoke on Thursday during his swearing-in ceremony as
Egypt's interim president. 
CAIRO — A senior jurist was sworn in as Egypt’s acting head of state on Thursday as the military escalated what appeared to be a widespread roundup of the top Islamist aides to Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, who was ousted and placed under house arrest the day before.
In a ceremony broadcast live on state television, the chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, took the oath as the country’s temporary president, praising the protesters whose mass demonstrations spurred the Egyptian military to depose Mr. Morsi on Wednesday, suspend the Constitution and install an interim government. Mr. Mansour said the actions in Egypt had “corrected the path of its glorious revolution.”
Both Mr. Mansour and the National Salvation Front alliance of liberal and leftist parties that pushed for Mr. Morsi’s ouster offered an olive branch to his Islamist supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that the group was part of the spectrum of Egyptian society and should participate in an inclusive political process.
But the Muslim Brotherhood, which had long been banned in Egypt until the 2011 Arab Spring revolution and quickly shot to power under Mr. Morsi, appeared to rule out any reconciliation, arguing that the military intervention was a coup that overthrew Egypt’s legitimate leader.
“We reject participation in any work with the usurper authorities,” Sheik Abdel Rahman al-Barr, an executive board member of the organization, said in a statement on the group’s Web site, which also exhorted members to “show self restraint and stay peaceful.”
At the same time, the public prosecutor on Thursday ordered the arrest of the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and his influential deputy, Khairat el-Shater, on charges of incitement to kill demonstrators. Egyptian media said Mr. Badie was taken into custody later Thursday.
The flagship state newspaper Al Ahram said the two Islamist leaders were suspected of a role in the deaths of eight protesters, six by gunshots, while a mob was attacking and burning the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters earlier this week.
The arrests appeared to be part of a broadening crackdown on Mr. Morsi and his political allies that included the arrests of dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members. Al Ahram, the English-language Web site of the state newspaper, said those taken into custody included Saad El-Katatni, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and Rashad Bayoumi, the deputy head of the Islamist movement.
Shortly before Mr. Mansour was sworn in, the skies over the capital, Cairo, filled with military jets in a series of flybys, news reports said. The state-run MENA news agency had reported that the flights were meant to “celebrate the triumph of popular will.”
Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands of opponents of the government had gathered each night since Sunday to demand Mr. Morsi’s removal, erupted in fireworks and jubilation on Wednesday night at news of the ouster, but by Thursday the city was reported calm.
At a square near the presidential palace where Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters had gathered, men broke into tears and vowed to stay until he was reinstated or they were forcibly removed. “The dogs have done it and made a coup against us,” they chanted on Wednesday. “Dying for the sake of God is more sublime than anything,” a speaker declared.
Military vehicles and soldiers in riot gear had surrounded the pro-Morsi rally in the hours before the takeover, and tensions escalated through the night. Within hours, at least seven people had died and more than 300 were injured in clashes in 17 provinces between Mr. Morsi’s supporters and either civilian opponents or security forces.
Just before he was taken into custody, Mr. Morsi rejected the generals’ actions as a “complete military coup.” By the end of Wednesday night, Mr. Morsi, under house arrest, was blocked from all communications, one of his advisers said.
For Mr. Morsi, it was a bitter and ignominious end to a tumultuous year of bruising political battles that ultimately alienated millions of Egyptians. Having won a narrow victory, his critics say, he broke his promises of an inclusive government and repeatedly demonized his opposition as traitors. With the economy crumbling, and with shortages of electricity and fuel, anger at the government mounted.
The generals built their case for intervention in a carefully orchestrated series of maneuvers, calling their actions an effort at a “national reconciliation” and refusing to call their takeover a coup. At a televised news conference late on Wednesday night, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi said that the military had no interest in politics and was ousting Mr. Morsi because he had failed to fulfill “the hope for a national consensus.”
The general stood on a broad stage, flanked by Egypt’s top Muslim and Christian clerics as well as a spectrum of political leaders including Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning diplomat and liberal icon, and Galal Morra, a prominent Islamist ultraconservative, or Salafi, all of whom endorsed the takeover.
Despite their protestations, the move plunged the generals back to the center of political power for the second time in less than three years, after their ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Their return threatened to cast a long shadow over future efforts to fulfill that revolution’s promise of a credible, civilian democracy. But General Sisi sought to present a very different image from the anonymous, numbered communiqu├ęs from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that were solemnly read over state television to announce Mr. Mubarak’s exit, and the general emphasized that the military had no desire to rule.
“The armed forces was the one to first announce that it is out of politics,” General Sisi said at the start. “It still is, and it will remain away from politics.”
At the White House, President Obama urged the military to move quickly to return Egypt to a democratically elected government, saying, “We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian Constitution.” The president notably did not refer to the military’s takeover as a coup — a phrase that would have implications for the $1.3 billion a year in American military aid to Egypt.
David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Cairo and Alan Cowell from London. Reporting was contributed by Kareem Fahim, Mayy El Sheikh and Ben Hubbard from Cairo; Mark Landler from Washington; and Rick Gladstone and Mona El-Naggar from New York.