Egypt’s military toppled the country’s first democratically elected president on Wednesday night, and installed the head of its highest court as interim leader, the nation’s top general announced.
Gen. Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi said the military was fulfilling its “historic responsibility” to protect the country by ousting Mohamed Morsi, the Western-educated Islamist leader elected a year ago.
The country’s constitution was also suspended.
Morsi’s dramatic ouster came after days of massive street protests.
While many saw his removal as a continuation of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, the ex-president’s Islamist allies viewed it as a coup, and threatened retaliation.
President Obama said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned” by the day’s events and called on the Egyptian military to “move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.”
Morsi rose to power after the country’s previous leader, Hosni Mubarak resigned in 2011, following weeks of protests and intense pressure.
Egypt won its independence from Britain after a 1952 revolution by army officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.