x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Jubilation over Morsi's ouster may be short-lived

Unilaterally removing Mr Morsi and arresting many of his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood threaten to stir up more animosity and violence. Analysis from Bradley Hope in Cairo

CAIRO // Tahrir Square erupted into cheers and festivities that lasted into the early morning yesterday after Mohammed Morsi, president for only a year, was deposed.

The jubilation may be short-lived, however.

Egypt is essentially back at square one, with the military in charge and no timetable for elections. In starting over, Egypt risks reliving the same divisive debates about the future that have characterised the past two and a half years since former president Hosni Mubarak resigned amid revolt.

A change of presidents and new "roadmap" for the future will do little to bring Egypt's polarised population closer together, nor will it contribute to solving the country's deep-rooted economic problems.

What's more, unilaterally removing Mr Morsi and arresting many of his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood threaten to stir up more animosity and violence.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood had been patiently building up to the day when it could rise to power in Egypt for decades, finally seizing the presidency in the country's first free elections last year. All that was taken from them in a blink of an eye, and there is no clear sign of how they will respond.

The scene near Rabaa Adaweya mosque, where supporters of the fallen president gathered on Wednesday night, augured fresh confrontations. Many said they would not stand idly after the military overthrew the president.

The fast-moving developments also require Egyptians to place their trust again in the military, which was criticised for badly mishandling the democratic transition after Mubarak. As recently as April there were calls for generals to face criminal charges after leaks from a government report into violence between January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2012 alleged that the military actively cracked down on dissent.

The hope is that restarting the democratic process through new elections and amending the constitution will create a more stable, prosperous Egypt.

But removing Mr Morsi from power only a quarter into his term required extraordinary measures that may result in an equally exceptional backlash.

Since its previous president was deposed in 2011, Egypt was only able to unite around calls for the president to leave. Once that happened, rancour and violence filled the gap.