The head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court has been chosen to lead the nation’s transitional government following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.
Judge Adly el-Mansour was named as interim leader of the Arab world’s most populous country by Egyptian Army General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, according to the AFP news agency.
A previously little known justice, al-Mansour is expected to be sworn in on Thursday.
Morsi was removed from power after a year of repeated failures to meet the expectations set up by the January 25 Revolution that ended the decades-old regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Continued grinding poverty, spiraling unemployment, Islamic violence against Coptic Christians and a crashing economy not only did not disappear, but in fact became worse.
Those conditions all combined to raise the ire of more than 80 million citizens who had been led to believe the revolution – and an Islamist government elected democratically by the people -- would magically change their lives for the better.
But the newly-elected legislators immediately made changes blocking any interference – or input – from their non-Islamist colleagues. And Morsi’s entry into the presidential palace brought with it further sweeping mandates consolidating power for the Muslim Brotherhood that made it clear he was taking a once-secular nation into an Islamist direction.
Tourism dried up, the country’s already difficult economic problems were further exacerbated, and protesters began to return to the streets, demanding to know when the new president would fix the problems for which hundreds had paid the ultimate price in 2011.
The protests escalated over the past month, and on Sunday – the first anniversary of Morsi’s election to office, demonstrators finally called for his resignation – a demand he rejected. The embattled 61-year-old head of state said he would defend his “legitimacy” with his life.
But at the final hour, facing his removal by Egyptian Army leadership, the president finally proposed a “consensus government” to end the crisis.
The compromise came too late, with the consensus already having been reached by others without him, at a separate time and place hours earlier.
As Egyptian Army Chief el-Sisi announced on state television that Morsi’s rule had ended, beside him was the head of the opposition, Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who also once headed the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency.
Also sitting at his side were the heads of the Christian Coptic Church, and Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning.
And though a crowd of thousands gathered in Nasr City to protest the coup, tens of thousands swelled the already burgeoning crowd packed into Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square to celebrate the event.
US President Barak Obama meanwhile announced that he was "deeply concerned" over Morsi's ouster and called on the army to refrain to "arbitrary arrests" of Morsi and his supporters.
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.
Police have began arresting leaders of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement, an interior ministry general told AFP. Saad al-Katatni, head of Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party was already in custody , he added.
In his speech announcing Morsi’s removal from power, el-Sisi laid out details of the roadmap for a political transition. The Islamist-drafted constitution is to be frozen and presidential elections held early, he said, without specifying when.
The armed forces, which had deployed troops and armor across the country, would "remain far away from politics," he stressed.
Former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who unsuccessfully ran against Morsi last year and who heads the opposition Congress Party, insisted “This is not a coup. Consultations will start from now for a government and reconciliation.”