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What's next for Egypt?

It's hard to keep up with the latest developments in Egypt. Last night Tweeters gave second by second updates of the events leading up to the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, who was democratically elected in Egypt's first free and fair elections a year ago.

On Monday the military declared a 48-hour deadline to Morsi, urging him to meet the people's demands otherwise they would implement their own roadmap for the future of Egypt. Many were left to speculate as to the exact nature of their intentions.


In response, Morsi offered to share power with his opponents, agreed to parliamentary elections, a national unity government, a national dialogue and a panel to amend the much debated constitution. But by 7pm Wednesday he had been officially ousted, a move announced by military officer General Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi.

Green neon lights projected onto a government building in Tahrir Square read 'Game Over.' Crowds of opposition supporters waved the Egyptian flag, whilst fireworks exploded overhead and soldiers lined the banks of the Nile, in preparation to take their place in the new Egypt.

The army raised barbed wire and barriers around the barracks where Morsi worked, and imposed a travel ban restricting his movement. He is currently under house arrest at the Presidential Guard's club.

That Morsi was unpopular, there is no doubt. The list of charges against him included his failure to lift Egypt out of a deepening political crisis, stealing too much power for the Muslim Brotherhood and trying to push through an Islamist backed constitution.

But pro-Morsi protests in Nasr City show that he still has tens of thousands of supporters. There, demonstrators shouted "down with military rule," angry that he should leave after serving just one year of his total four-year term, fearful that what Essam Haddad has called a "military coup" will usher in a new era of repression for Islamists.

Despite this, al-Sisi has suspended the constitution and selected Adli Mansour, head of the constitutional court as of two days earlier, as the interim president. Al-Sisi has promised presidential and parliamentary elections, and a transitional cabinet.

Manour's government will allegedly be "inclusive of all political factions." But whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood will be allowed to play a role in politics post July 2013, or if the whole party will be marginalised as a result of Morsi's mistakes and early ouster, is unclear.

The Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters have already been burnt to the ground, with no protection from the police, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood TV channels closed. An arrest warrant for 300 members has been issued.

Some on the list, like Khairat al-Shater, weren't even part of Morsi's government. Others, such as Morsi himself, were let out of prison by their fans during the January 2011 revolution, but may well be heading back there on the grounds that their breaking free was illegal.

Ahmed Shafiq – a member of the 'deep state' who was pitted against Morsi in last year's election – has just released a video declaring his imminent return, that "there is no room for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt any more" and that "enabling Muslim Brotherhood rule was a fatal mistake."

As for military, their rule for five months last year following the downfall of Mubarak was once the focus of heavy criticism in Egypt, and Morsi's ability to distance himself from their power by removing important generals has long been cited as one of his main achievements.

A recent New York Times article by Ben Hubbard summed up their standing well when he said, "The removal underlined the armed forces' status as Egypt's most powerful institution since the coup six decades ago that toppled King Farouq and led to the rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser."

They are the largest army in the Middle East at 450,000 troops, largely made up of young conscripts. Many of the rest are elite officers who have their own hospitals, clubs and parks bank rolled by the state.

Of course, the events in Tahrir Square are already having reverberations across the Middle East. Tunisian opposition activists have created their own Tamarod movement and are attempting to rally support behind a petition in opposition to their own democratically elected Islamist government, Al-Nahda, though their signatures are nowhere near the size of Egypt's.

Like Egypt, they blame the government for not dragging the country out of economic misery the country plunged into when former President Zine Al Abidine Ali was swept away.

Whilst Russia and China have supported Morsi's ouster; some officials from the US and the European Union have spoken out about the removal of a democratically elected government. But the US has not announced it will pull the plug on millions of pounds worth of aid it hands over to Egypt each year.

Needless to say, the protests have challenged the legitimacy of free and fair elections. Who's to say the next President will make it more than six months before he's toppled, and the one after longer than three?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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