Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Running Out of Options, Allies, and Time
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi rejected the 48-hour ultimatum the army placed on him Tuesday night—in a tweet.
"President Mohammed Morsi confirms the legitimacy of the constitutional decree and rejects any attempt to abandon it and calls on the military to pull its ultimatum and rejects any internal or external dictations," his official tweet read. Morsi will address the nation later this evening.
In the warning issued Monday, the Army Chief-of-staff General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi threatened to take military action against Morsi should he fail to comply with a power-sharing agreement by Wednesday. The military claims it doesn't want to be involved in the government's power structure itself, but instead wants to persuade Morsi to restructure his own government by giving competing political factions a say in political dealings. Both Morsi's camp and the anti-government protesters have refused to engage in negotiations.
Protesters have been gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square since Sunday, where demonstrations have become more and more violent. At least 16 people have reportedly been killed, and hundreds are injured. The death of an American student and the rape of a Dutch journalist have drawn particular attention abroad. On Tuesday, protesters spread to the area outside of the Ithadya Presidential Palace where Morsi resides, following through on a promise to occupy his home if he fails to resign.
Despite having been elected in what were widely regarded as free and fair elections, Morsi has drawn criticism for his increasingly authoritarian grasp on political power, and his failure to revive Egypt's struggling economy.
The military has been vague about what exact actions it will take if Morsi does not cave to the ultimatum, and insists this is not a coup. It appears that this power-sharing plan is meant to serve as a temporary measure while a new constitution is drafted and candidates are given time to prepare for a new presidential election.
Whatever happens, it's going to have to happen soon. By the look of it, Morsi doesn't have as much support as he'd previously thought. Up to 17 million Egyptians are estimated to have shown up to voice their disapproval in the last several days, and several key members of his party—including five ministers and two spokesmen—have already resigned.
President Obama hasn't yet officially withdrawn his support for Morsi's regime, but anonymous White House officials are starting to suggest that the Egyptian ruler can no longer count on the US government as an ally in this fight.