CAIRO — The office of deposed President Mohamed Morsi accused Egypt's military of a "full coup" after it removed the embattled leader from office Wednesday and announced it was forming a coalition government, scrapping the Islamist-backed constitution and would hold early elections to bring stability to this politically restive nation.
The nationally televised announcement by Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, commander of the armed forces, came amid a turbulent day of intrigue that saw the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political power and a second military intervention in national politics in just over two years.
The bold action to remove Egypt’s first freely elected president incited fury among Morsi’s supporters but drew cheers and celebratory gunshots from antigovernment protesters who massed by the millions in recent days against what they regarded as an authoritarian leader with a heavily Islamist agenda.
Morsi's whereabouts were unclear, but a message on his office Twitter account called the measures announced by the armed forces as "a full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation."
Shortly before the announcement, soldiers backed by armored vehicles deployed around the presidential palace and along key streets and bridges in Cairo. The military said it was imposing a travel ban on Morsi and key members of his Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Local news reports said Morsi was in "political isolation." The military named the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as acting president.
Sisi read the terse statement flanked by opposition leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. The scene plunged the Arab world’s most populous nation into another unpredictable political era, but with the hope among many that an inclusive democratic government would emerge.
With tanks and soldiers on the streets and crowds roaring in Tahrir Square, the scene was reminiscent of 2011, when the army forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak after a popular uprising.
Like then, Egypt on Wednesday mesmerized a region still reverberating from the "Arab Spring."
Sisi said the military acknowledged the demands of the Egyptian people "who have called on it to make [the armed forces] their victor, not called on it to take power or rule, but called on it for general duty and necessary protection.”
He added, "In the past few months, the armed forces have made direct and indirect efforts to contain the internal situation and to create national reconciliation between all the political forces, including the presidential institution."