Egyptian President Morsi’s tumultuous year in power
June 30, 2012: Mohamed Morsi, a U.S.-educated engineer and activist with the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, is sworn in as Egypt’s first freely elected president. Morsi won 52% of the votes in a runoff election two weeks earlier and will rule over a deeply divided country. The military hierarchy, which has governed during the chaotic 16 months since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, will retain power over the armed forces, security and budget until a new constitution is drafted.
July 10: The Islamist-dominated parliament convenes in defiance of a court order the previous month deeming it to have been illegally elected. The session is a symbolic show of support for Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood allies control half of the seats. It is also a display of Morsi’s intent to recover authority from the secular military over key aspects of security and the economy.
July 24: Morsi names Hesham Kandil as prime minister. An obscure bureaucrat and holdover from the interim military leadership, Kandil technically meets opposition demands that Morsi choose a government leader from outside his Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. But the water engineer educated at North Carolina State University is, like Morsi, a conservative Islamist.
Aug. 2: A new Cabinet is sworn in, retaining key ministers from the interim military government. The appointed government leaders, including Finance Minister Mumtaz Saeed and Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, reflect the limited choices available to Morsi from outside the old guard of his ousted predecessor, Mubarak.
Aug. 12: Morsi purges the armed forces hierarchy in a provocative move to expand the powers of the presidency and rid the military of top brass from the Mubarak era. The dismissals include the forced retirement of Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, a field marshal who headed the interim military government. He is replaced by Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, head of military intelligence. The heads of the air force and navy are also retired.
Sept. 26: In his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, Morsi signals that he will impose curbs on free speech in Egypt to prevent inciting hatred and defaming religions. He declares Egypt’s intent to lead the way in resolving Syria’s civil war, pressing the cause of Palestinians and defusing the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
Oct. 13: Egyptian doctors begin a mass resignation campaign from state-run hospitals in protest of poor salaries and corruption and insecurity at clinics and hospitals. Physicians, who often earn less than $100 a month, had been conducting a partial strike for three weeks aimed at getting at least one-third of the 50,000 state-employed doctors to resign.
Nov. 21: Morsi is instrumental in brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The pact ends eight days of fighting that killed 162 Palestinians and five Israelis. It demonstrates the Egyptian president’s influence in an Arab world being reshaped by uprisings and revolution.
Nov. 22: Morsi expands his authority in a startling power grab that weakens the courts and excludes his decrees from judicial oversight. The move infuriates civil rights leaders as it makes the president, already wielding executive and legislative powers, the ultimate force in a country without a parliament or functional constitution.
Nov. 23: Clashes erupt across Egypt in protest of Morsi’s power grab, which has sharpened lines between Islamists and those who fear the president is seeking to subject the country to Islamic law. Protesters torch the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party offices in Alexandria and wage street battles in Suez and Port Said, a prelude to unrest that will intensify and spread in the months ahead.
Dec. 8: Morsi rescinds his 2-week-old decree seizing broad powers and putting his office beyond judicial oversight. But the move fails to calm unrest as the president refuses to cancel a referendum later in the month on a proposed constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly.
Dec. 22: Morsi scores a victory in his push for an Islamist state when a controversial new constitution is approved by 64% of voters in a two-round referendum. But the secular opposition accuses the president’s Islamist allies of fraud, portending more conflict between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and a newly collaborative opposition, the National Salvation Front, which includes Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.
Jan. 27, 2013: Morsi invokes emergency powers in Ismailia, Port Said and Suez to quell riots that have killed nearly 50 and raised questions on whether his Islamist-backed government can secure order amid intensifying political turmoil.
March 3: The U.S. government releases $250 million in aid to Morsi’s government in exchange for pledges of political and economic reforms. Secretary of State John F. Kerry serves notice that the Obama administration will keep close watch on how Morsi honors his commitments and that future aid will be dependent on fulfilling promises of building democracy. Egypt is also struggling to meet conditions for a $4.8-billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund.
March 30: Egyptian state prosecutors order the arrest of popular television satirist Bassem Youssef for allegedly insulting Islam and Morsi. The order reflects an accelerated campaign to stifle protest and opposition to the Islamist president as it follows the arrest a week earlier of five prominent pro-democracy activists.
April 27: An alcohol-free hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada opens, testament to the spreading influence of Islamic values in Egyptian commerce and society. The opening, marked by the ceremonial dumping of liquor bottle contents on the resort’s sidewalks, is cheered by Islamists but denounced by secular political and business leaders as a threat to Egypt’s tourism industry, already devastated by two years of political turmoil.
May 7: Morsi reshuffles his Cabinet, strengthening the Muslim Brotherhood’s hold on power and angering opposition leaders who had demanded more secular ministers to balance Islamist influence in the government’s upper ranks.
June 4: Nineteen Americans are convicted on charges of operating illegally funded organizations for their work helping Egyptians build civil society institutions. The U.S. defendants, all but one already out of the country, are sentenced to five-year prison terms. The move angers Washington and Egypt’s secular opposition, as it is seen as an effort to repress rival political forces challenging Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood allies.
June 30: Hundreds of thousands fill town and city centers across Egypt to denounce Morsi on the first anniversary of his inauguration. The protests against his Islamist agenda and heavy-handed moves to shackle political opposition are countered by the turnout of Morsi supporters, leading to deadly clashes and violence that escalates into a massive force demanding the president step down.
July 3: Egypt’s military, which two days earlier had issued an ultimatum that Morsi end the disruptive turmoil paralyzing the country within 48 hours, announces that it has removed him from office and suspended the constitution. Demonstrators celebrate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, restoring the scene of revolutionary chaos that ensued after Mubarak’s February 2011 ouster.
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