Egypt coup overthrows Morsi as president

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CAIRO -- Egypt's first democratically elected president was ousted by the military Wednesday after barely a year in office, felled by the same kind of popular revolt that brought him to power in the Arab Spring.

The armed forces announced they would install a temporary civilian government to replace Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. They also suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution and called for new elections.

Millions of anti-Morsi protesters in cities around the country erupted in delirious scenes of joy after the televised announcement by the army chief.

Fireworks burst over Cairo's Tahrir Square, where men and women danced, shouting, "God is great" and "Long live Egypt." Protester Mohammed Nageh, 25, shouted, "For the first time, people have really won their liberty."

Moments after military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke, Morsi said in a statement on the Egyptian president's office's Twitter account that the military's actions "represent a full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation." He urged "everyone to adhere to peacefulness and avoid shedding blood of fellow countrymen."

In a video apparently shot with a shaky cellphone camera, Morsi, 61, declared later that he was still the "the president of the republic" and said Egypt's 2011 revolution against authoritarian rule had been "stolen." The video, which did not reveal Morsi's whereabouts, circulated on social media sites.

Travel bans were imposed on Morsi and top figures from his Muslim Brotherhood, which said early Thursday that Morsi was under house arrest.

Fearing a violent reaction by Morsi's Islamist supporters, the military sent troops and armored vehicles into the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, surrounding Islamist rallies. The head of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing was arrested.

Clashes erupted in several provincial cities when Islamists opened fire on police, with at least nine killed in the battles, security officials said.

The army's move is the second time in Egypt's 2 1/2 years of turmoil that it has forced out the country's leader. In the first, it pushed out autocrat Hosni Mubarak after a massive uprising against his rule.

Its new move came after a stunning four-day anti-Morsi revolt that brought protests even larger than those of 2011, fueled by public anger that Morsi was giving too much power to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists and had failed to tackle the country's mounting economic woes.

This time, however, its removal of an elected figure could be more explosive.

Some of Morsi's Islamist backers have vowed to fight to the end -- to defend both the legitimacy of his election and their ambitions to bring Islamist rule to Egypt. Morsi's election victory was a narrow one, 51.7 percent of the voting against 48.3 percent for Ahmed Shafiq, who was prime minister under Mubarak.

"Down with military rule. Revolution, Islamic revolution, against el-Sissi and the thugs," the crowd of thousands chanted at the main pro-Morsi rally in Cairo after the army announcement.

The army insisted it did not carry out a coup, but was acting on the will of the people to clear the way for a new leadership.

El-Sissi, the defense minister appointed by Morsi, said the interim president -- Adly Mansour, Egypt's top judicial authority -- will have the right to decree laws during the transitional period.

The constitution, drafted by Morsi's Islamist allies, was "temporarily suspended," and a panel of experts and representatives of all political movements will consider amendments. He did not say whether a referendum would be held to ratify the changes, as is customary, or when elections would be held.

El-Sissi warned that the armed forces and police will deal "decisively" with violence.

El-Sissi spoke while flanked by the country's top Muslim and Christian clerics as well as pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei and two representatives of Tamarod, or Rebel, the youth opposition movement that engineered the latest wave of protests with a petition campaign that collected more than 22 million signatures of Egyptians calling on Morsi to step down.

Shortly before el-Sissi went on the air, troops, commandos and armored vehicles were deployed in cities around the country. In Cairo, they were stationed on bridges over the Nile River and at major intersections. They also surrounded rallies being held by Morsi's supporters -- an apparent move to contain them.

Clashes erupted in several cities after el-Sissi announced Morsi's removal, according to security officials. Police shot dead six Islamists who opened fire on Marsa Matrouh's police headquarters as they drove past.

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