The Egyptian army has overthrown President Mohamed Morsi, announcing a roadmap for the country’s political future that will be implemented by a national reconciliation committee.
The head of Egypt’s armed forces issued a declaration on Wednesday evening suspending the constitution and appointing the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adli al-Mansour, as interim head of state.
Mansour will be sworn in on Thursday.
Morsi’s presidential Facebook page quoted the deposed president as saying he rejected the army statement as a military coup.
In a televised broadcast, flanked by military leaders, religious authorities and political figures, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi effectively declared the removal of Morsi.
Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth movements. He said the roadmap had been agreed by a range of political groups.
Morsi was believed to be holed up at a Republican Guard barracks in Cairo, surrounded by barbed wire, barriers and troops, but it was not clear whether he was under arrest.
Islamist supporters of Morsi who have gathered in a Cairo suburb reacted angrily to the announcement by the army.
Some broke up paving stones, forming piles of rocks. Muslim Brotherhood security guards in hard hats and holding sticks formed a cordon around the encampment, close to a mosque. Men and women wept and chanted.
Denouncing military chief Sisi, some shouted: “Sisi is void! Islam is coming! We will not leave!”
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the security forces looked on as tens of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters rallied in a demonstration that dwarfed that of Morsi supporters in Nasr City, on the opposite side of town.
“Come here O Sisi, Morsi isn’t my president,” the flag-waving protesters chanted in the square, referring to the army chief.
The crowd swelled at nightfall, after a scorching day that saw police officers hand out water to the demonstrators in the middle of Tahrir, epicentre of the 2011 uprising that ended three decades of authoritarian rule by Hosni Mubarak.
Speaking shortly after Sisi’s announcement, liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said the 2011 revolution was relaunched and that the roadmap meets the demand of the protesters.
Egypt’s leading Muslim and Christian clerics also backed the army-sponsored roadmap.
Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Cairo’s ancient seat of Muslim learning, and Pope Tawadros, the head of the Coptic Church, both made brief statements following the announcement by the head of the armed forces.
Tawadros said the plan offered a political vision and would ensure security for all Egyptians, about 10 percent of whom are Christian.
Egypt’s second largest Islamist group, the Nour party, said in a statement that it agreed to the army roadmap in order to avoid further conflict.
Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, came under massive pressure in the run-up to Sunday’s anniversary of his maiden year in office, with his opponents accusing him of failing the 2011 revolution by concentrating power in Islamist hands.
The embattled 62-year-old proposed a “consensus government” as a way out of the country’s worst crisis since the 2011 uprising.
But the United States urged Morsi to “do more” as a military deadline passed for him to meet the demands of the people following a week of bloody unrest during mass protests calling for him to quit.
The advice came too late, however, as the army said Mansour, a previously little known judge, would become the new leader of the Arab world’s most populous country.