Showdown in Egypt

Massive anti-government protests across Egypt have challenged President Mohammad Morsi’s hold on power as never before. What will happen next, and what impact will the protests have on Egypt’s precarious democratization process?

LONDON – With massive anti-government protests across Egypt on June 30 – a year to the day after Egyptians elected their first-ever civilian president – a diverse and decentralized movement has challenged President Mohammad Morsi’s hold on power as never before. Hundreds of thousands were mobilized to take to the streets, with many storming and burning down the Cairo headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

At the end of the day, the president was given an ultimatum. The first “revolutionary” statement of Egypt’s new grassroots Tamarod (rebel) movement demanded that Morsi leave within two days or face a march on the presidential palace. “In the name of 22 million citizens, we declare that Mohammad Morsi is no longer the legitimate President of Egypt.” The protesters then appealed to “the institutions of the state, the army, the police, and the judiciary to side with the popular will.”

The army has spoken, issuing an ultimatum of its own to Morsi: Address the protesters’ demands or face a military solution to the crisis. As the day ended, Morsi’s office declared that it had not been consulted prior to the army’s statement, and tens of thousands of the president’s supporters demonstrated in several cities simultaneously at midnight.

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