Egypt ousts Mursi, creating dilemma for West
Egyptians elected Mohamed Mursi as president in a vote held just a year ago. On Wednesday, the country's military overthrew his government. Many celebrated his departure, while others worried about the transition away from a democratically-elected government.
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His overthrow may have repercussions in Tunisia, whose uprising prompted Egyptians to take on Mubarak, the last in a 60-year line of military-backed rulers. Tunisia now has its own "Tamarud" movement, seeking to end Islamist government.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Continued Turmoil in Egypt
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On Tahrir Square, cradle of Egypt's Jan. 25 Revolution in 2011, huge crowds in the hundreds of thousands set off fireworks and partied, chanting: "The people and the army are one hand!"
The past four days have seemed to many like a fast-motion rerun of the 18 days that brought down Mubarak, when the army that had long backed him realised his time was up.
Sisi announced a technocratic government will rule until new presidential and parliamentary elections are held - no time frame was set. The constitution will be reviewed by a panel representative of all sections of society. Media freedoms, under threat during Mursi's rule, would be protected.
That did not seem to prevent the shutdown of three channels, including one owned by the Brotherhood, and the arrest of a staffer at Egypt's Al Jazeera Mubasher, owned by the Gulf state of Qatar. The emirate is seen as close to the movement.
Saudi Arabia, in contrast, has long been suspicious of the Brotherhood's international ambitions. King Abdullah sent a message of congratulations to the man replacing Mursi. The United Arab Emirates also welcomed the change in Cairo.
U.S. oil prices rose to a 14-month high above $100 a barrel partly on fears that unrest in Egypt could destabilise the Middle East and lead to supply disruption.
The massive anti-Mursi protests showed that the Brotherhood had not only alienated liberals and secularists by seeking to entrench Islamist rule, notably in the new constitution. But it also angered millions of Egyptians with economic mismanagement.
Tourism and investment have dried up, inflation is rampant and fuel supplies are running short, with power cuts lengthening in the summer heat and motorists spending hours fuelling cars.
With Egypt's economy left ragged by the unrest of the past two and half years, Mursi had been helped by gifts and loans from Qatar. The new authorities may hope for help from other quarters. Notably, an IMF loan has long been stalled.
The official spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood said supporters were willing to become martyrs to defend Mursi.
But the Brotherhood also has an 85-year history of survival and may take a long view of whether it is better to draw in its horns and watch others try to reform Egypt's sclerotic economy.
A Brotherhood official, Gamal Heshmat, told Reuters: "There is absolutely no direction towards violence. The Brotherhood are not raised on violence. Their cause is a peaceful one, defending their rights, which is stronger than a military coup."
A colleague, Osama Gado, spoke by telephone from the square where thousands of Mursi supporters were gathered: "I am afraid to leave the square because I fear I could get arrested."
(Reporting by Asma Alsharif, Mike Collett-White, Alexander Dziadosz, Shaimaa Fayed, Maggie Fick, Alastair Macdonald, Shadia Nasralla, Tom Perry, Yasmine Saleh, Paul Taylor, and Patrick Werr in Cairo, Abdelrahman Youssef in Alexandria and Yursi Mohamed in Ismailia; Writing by Paul Taylor and Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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