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POLITICS: PennAve

Egyptian military ousts Morsi; Obama administration rips leader's response to protests

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This article has been updated at 3:40 p.m. to reflect the Egyptian military's statements.

The Egyptian military announced Wednesday that president Mohamed Morsi had been removed from office, shortly after the Obama administration criticized the embattled leader's defiant reaction to the mushrooming protests in Cairo.

The military also suspended the nation's constitution and said a new Cabinet would be formed.

Protesters in Tahrir Square greeted the military declaration with massive cheers and fireworks. However, it was not clear how Morsi would react to the military decree.

For their part, U.S. officials declined to acknowledge that a coup was taking place in Egypt. However, President Obama's surrogates ripped Morsi for not doing more to showcase his commitment to democratic ideals, part of a possible embrace of the protests in Cairo.  

“There’s more that he needs to do,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said of the first democratically elected Egyptian president. “It’s also about allowing the voices of the people in your country to be heard, taking steps to work with all sides — and those are steps we have not yet seen.”

Morsi refused to leave office, as anti-government protesters in Egypt have demanded, saying he would fight to the death to preserve his presidency. And Morsi did little to appease protesters who say the Egyptian president has squashed dissent and undermined the push for democratic ideals he previously championed.

After Morsi declined to meet its 48-hour deadline for reaching a deal with protesters, the Egyptian military mobilized armored vehicles Wednesday in what could portend a lengthy and violent clash in the heart of the Arab Spring.

Despite their obvious frustration with Morsi, the White House has been hesitant to speak out too forcefully on the Egyptian protests, not wanting to stoke volatility in an unstable region.

“We’re not taking sides in this,” Psaki said. “This is for the Egyptian people and for all sides to work through together, and we’re hopeful they can come to a political resolution.”

However, the White House is up against growing criticism for backing yet another leader in Egypt unable to meet the demands of his own people.

Amid the escalating protests in Egypt, the White House has not announced any plans for Obama to publicly address the conflict. He has no public events scheduled for Wednesday.

“It’s not our job to choose who Egypt’s leaders are; we want to make sure all voices are heard,” Obama said during a just-completed trip to Africa, a sentiment the president repeated in a phone call this week to Morsi.

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner