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Top judge sworn in as Interim Egypt President

05 July, 2013

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CAIRO: Egypt's army rounded up the leadership of ousted president Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday as a top judge took office after an abrupt end to the Islamist's first year in power.

Morsi's government unravelled late on Wednesday after the army gave him a 48-hour ultimatum in the wake of massive demonstrations since June 30 against his turbulent rule.

The Brotherhood called for a peaceful protest on Friday over the "military coup" as the army turned the screws on the Islamist movement by arresting its supreme leader Mohammed Badie "for inciting the killing of protesters", a security official told AFP. Anger gave way to gloom as thousands of the embattled Islamist movement's supporters rallied at a Cairo mosque, surrounded by the army.

"It's a soft military coup. The military was smart, using the cover of civilians," said one, 26-year-old Ahmed al-Sayyed, in reference to the mass anti-Morsi protests.

Military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Morsi's overthrow on Wednesday night, citing his inability to end a deepening political crisis, as dozens of armoured personnel carriers streamed onto Cairo's streets.

The crackdown came as chief justice Adly Mansour, 67, was sworn in as interim president at a ceremony broadcast live from the Supreme Constitutional Court. He will serve until elections at a yet-to-be determined date, said Sisi, as he laid out a roadmap for a political transition that includes a freeze on the Islamist-drafted constitution.

A judicial source said the prosecution would on Monday begin questioning Brotherhood members, including Morsi, for "insulting the judiciary" as the charges began to pile up. Other leaders of the movement would be questioned on the same charges, including the head of its political arm Saad al-Katatni, Mohammed al-Beltagui, Gamal Gibril and Taher Abdel Mohsen.

Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders have also been slapped with a travel ban.

Analysts said Morsi and his Islamists hastened their own demise.

"Morsi and the Brotherhood made almost every conceivable mistake... they alienated potential allies, ignored rising discontent, (and) focused more on consolidating their rule than on using what tools they did have," Nathan Brown wrote on the New Republican website.

A senior military officer said the army was "preventively" holding Morsi and that he might face formal charges linked to his prison escape during the revolt that overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Morsi had issued a defiant call for supporters to protect his elected "legitimacy", in a recorded speech hours after the military announced his ouster. "We had to confront it at some point, this threatening rhetoric," the officer said. "He succeeded in creating enmity between Egyptians."

Morsi's rule was marked by a spiralling economic crisis, shortages of fuel and often deadly opposition protests. Thousands of protesters dispersed after celebrating wildly through the night at the news of his downfall. Egypt's press almost unanimously hailed Morsi's ouster as a "legitimate" revolution. "And the people's revolution was victorious," read the front page of state-owned Al-Akhbar.

Morsi's opponents had accused him of failing the 2011 revolution by concentrating power in Brotherhood hands.

His supporters say he inherited many problems from a corrupt regime, and that he should have been allowed to serve out his term until 2016. US President Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned" over Morsi's ouster and urged the army to refrain from "arbitrary arrests".

In May, Washington approved $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt. That was now under review, said Obama, as he called for a swift return to democratic rule.

Germany called the military's move "a major setback for democracy in Egypt", while Russia urged all Egyptian political forces to "exercise restraint". Britain said it will work with the interim authorities despite not supporting the military intervention. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said civilian rule "should be resumed as soon as possible" and that Egypt's future should reflect the people's will, in a statement echoed by NATO.

At least 10 people were killed in clashes in Alexandria and in the southern province of Minya during the night, security officials said, after the week before Morsi's downfall saw at least 50 dead in clashes.

In addition to rounding up Brotherhood members, the security forces also turned off broadcasts by the group's television channel, a Morsi aide told AFP.

End.

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