Egyptians celebrate as military removes Morsi - KMSP-TV

Egyptians celebrate as military removes Morsi

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The Egyptian military's removal of the country's first democratically elected president was met with celebration in the streets of Cairo in a historic coup barely a year after his election.

President Mohammed Morsi was felled by the same kind of popular revolt that first brought him to power in the Arab Spring, and the armed forces in the country plan to instill a temporary civilian government to replace the Islamist leader.

The White House insists it wants the military to hand back power as soon as possible after an army general appeared on Egyptian television to lay out the ground plan -- evicting Morsi, suspending the constitution and promising new elections.

In Tahrir Square, a kaleidoscope of celebration erupted in laser light and fireworks. Two years ago, a crowd gathered there to end the reign of Hosni Mubarak. The protesters who gathered this time to demand Morsi leave as well claim he failed to deliver on his promises of change.

"He is continuing the same policies as Mubarak," said protester Tarek Abdel Hamid. "The reason why we removed Mubarak was not to replace him with someone who is exactly the same, just with Islamist tendencies."

Away from the celebration, the Egyptian military was shutting down television stations and rounding up members of the opposition. Reuters reported the top two leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested, with warrants issued for 300 more.

On the street, the thousands of Morsi supporters who gathered were heard chanting "victory or martyrdom" as concerns of potential violence in the wake of the ouster grew. So far, 39 people have died in fighting over the past few days.

As for Morsi, he has not been seen for 24 hours -- not since he gave a rambling speech on television in which he repeatedly stated that he was legitimately elected with 52 percent of the vote.

CNN reported the deposed leader was placed under house arrest by Egyptian authorities, but through Twitter, Morsi urged civilians and military leaders to uphold the constitution and refuse to accept the coup d'état.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has embarked on a diplomatic dance to remain neutral. President Barack Obama spent the day conferring with top advisers before releasing a long, carefully-crafted statement that read in part:

"We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process."

Yet, many are skeptical that Obama's words will have an impact in the upheaval.

"It's irrelevant now what President Obama says because the people are on the streets for three days," said Michael Meunier. "There are 30 million people on the streets."

So, is it the will of the people -- or just another large crowd? That's the conundrum as world leaders grapple with histories well-earned warning to beware of generals and their promises.

The anti-Morsi faction has gone out of its way to insist that the ouster is not a "military coup," creating an interesting semantic debate that could have real policy implications for the U.S. Under the law governing foreign aid, the U.S. would be required to suspend $1.5 billion in military aid to Egypt if a military coup occurred.

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