CAIRO - Egyptian liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said on Wednesday that the Arab Spring revolution of 2011 had been relaunched by the announcement of an army-sponsored roadmap which removed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

He added that the roadmap met demands for early presidential demands as called for by the liberal coalition.

Egypt's leading Muslim and Christian clerics backed an army-sponsored roadmap on Wednesday which suspended the constitution and called for early presidential and parliamentary elections.

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 an announcement by the head of the armed forces that deposed the elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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-biggest Islamist party said it agreed to an army political "road map" that suspends the constitution so that the country can avoid conflict.

"We took this position and we took these decisions only so we stop the bloodshed of our people," Galal Murra, Nour's secretary general, said in a televised broadcast.

Morsi's presidential Facebook page quoted him as saying he rejected measures announced by the army as a "military coup".

It was unclear whether Morsi had access to his own Facebook page or if the statement was posted by an aide.

REACTION FROM THE ARAB WORLD

Saudi King Abdullah sent a message of congratulations to the head of the Egyptian Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, on Wednesday for being appointed interim head of state after the army overthrew Morsi, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

"In the name of the people of Saudi Arabia and on my behalf, we congratulate your leadership of Egypt in this critical period of its history. We pray for God to help you bear the responsibility laid upon you to achieve the ambitions of our brotherly people of Egypt," the message said. 

Gulf Arab states welcomed Morsi's ouster on Wednesday following days of unrest in a country once seen by Gulf Arabs as an instrumental ally against rival power Iran.

The rise of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has unsettled most Gulf Arab states, including the UAE, which feared it would embolden Islamists at home.

Qatar was alone among Gulf Arab states in celebrating the 2011 Arab Spring revolt that toppled Mubarak, a foe of Iran and a longtime ally of the hereditary states that sit on nearly a quarter of the world's oil reserves.

The United Arab Emirates also welcomed the change in Egypt, according to state news agency WAM, and praised the Egyptian armed forces.

"His Highness Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the Foreign Minister of the UAE, expressed his full confidence that the great people of Egypt are able to cross these difficult moments that Egypt is going through," WAM said in a statement.

"Sheikh Abdullah said that the great Egyptian army was able to prove again that they are the fence of Egypt and that they are the protector and strong shield that guarantee Egypt will remain a state of institutions and law," it added.

There was no word from Qatar, the only Gulf Arab country to have publicly sided with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Witnesses said the country deployed extra police forces around the Egyptian Embassy in Doha.

Qatar's emir stepped down last week in favour of his son, raising speculation the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas may be reconsidering its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Influential Muslim cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian seen close to the Muslim Brotherhood who had lived in Qatar for many years, is reported to be in Egypt. He had denied reports that Qatar's new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had asked him to leave the country.

Qatar has been a major financier of the Islamist groups around the Arab World, including Egypt's Brotherhood. 

EGYPTIAN ARMY MEDIA CRACKDOWN  

Egypt's military-led authorities shut down three Islamist-run TV stations on Wednesday including one operated by the Muslim Brotherhood after Morsi was toppled, drawing a statement of concern from a press freedom watchdog.

The security forces also raided the offices of Al Jazeera's Egyptian news channel and detained at least five of its staff, said Karim El-Assiuti, one of its journalists. Four of them were later released, the channel said.

The channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, was prevented from broadcasting from a pro-Mursi rally in northern Cairo and its crew there was also detained.

The Egyptian arm of the Qatari-owned media company began broadcasting after the 2011 uprising that topped President Hosni Mubarak and has been accused by critics of being sympathetic to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood's Egypt25 channel was forced off air and its managers arrested shortly after General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, head of Egypt's armed forces, announced a plan for a new political transition, the state news agency MENA reported.

The authorities also shut down two other Islamist-run stations, Al-Hafiz and Al-Nas, security sources said. Both are affiliated to the strict Salafi Islamist movement.

"We are concerned by reports that authorities are shutting down television coverage based on political perspective," said Sherif Mansour of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "We urge the military not to deprive Egyptians of information sources at this important juncture."

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