Egypt’s military chief has defended removing Mohamed Morsi from office, saying the ousted president had violated his popular mandate and antagonised state institutions.
Speaking to an auditorium filled with military officers on Sunday, General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said Morsi “entered into a conflict with the judiciary, the media, the police and the public opinion. Then [he] also entered into a conflict with the armed forces.”
He did not elaborate on the nature of the conflict with the military, but said that the armed forces could no longer stand on the sidelines as millions of Egyptians took to the streets to call for Morsi to step down over allegations he was abusing his power.
The military chief said he frequently advised Morsi and finally reached out to him before giving him a 48-hour ultimatum to reconcile with opponents and address public demands.
He said he sent two envoys, including then Prime Minister Hesham Kandil and a trusted legal expert, urging the president to hold a referendum on whether voters still supported his presidency, but the suggestion was rejected out of hand.
Al-Sisi appealed to all parties, in an apparent nod to Morsi’s supporters, to participate in the new transition, saying it is overseen by an unbiased leader and will restore the right of people to choose.
Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad responded to al-Sisi’s remarks, saying that the military had no right to act on behalf of the people of Egypt except through “orders of their elected commander in chief,” meaning Morsi.
In comments posted on Twitter, he said the military also has no right to decide which protest is worthy enough to represent the people.
Al-Sisi’s comments on Sunday came as the designated interim prime minister pushed ahead with talks to form a new Cabinet this week.
But continuing its crackdown on the Brotherhood leadership, Egypt’s new chief prosecutor ordered frozen the assets of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and at least 13 other senior members of the group pending investigations into deadly violence outside the organisation’s headquarters in Cairo and the Republic Guard forces club.
Meanwhile, the military-backed government pressed forward with its transition plan.
Reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei was sworn in as Egypt’s interim vice president for international relations on Sunday.
Several secular-minded candidates also have been approached to lead the foreign, finance, culture, information and other key ministries.
Nabil Fahmy, who served as Egypt’s former ambassador to the United States for over a decade under Hosni Mubarak, was tapped to be foreign minister, according to state media.