Egyptian foreign minister resigns, Morsi remains defiant

July 2, 2013

Mohamed Kamel AmrAP, CAIRO — Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr submitted his resignation early Tuesday in response to ongoing political protests, which have seen millions take to the streets in Cairo and elsewhere in an effort to oust President Mohammed Morsi from office.

Amr’s resignation, reported by Egyptian state media, comes after five other Cabinet ministers said they stepped down from their posts Monday.The five are the ministers of communications, legal affairs, environment, tourism and water utilities, according to MENA, the Egyptian state news agency. The governor of the strategic province of Ismailia on the Suez Canal, Hassan el-Rifaai, also quit.
Early Tuesday, Morsi responded to a 48-hour ultimatum from the military to come to terms with opposition protesters by saying that he would not allow the army to step in and supersede Egyptian democracy.

Morsi’s office issued a statement just after midnight saying a “modern democratic state” was one of the main achievements of the anti-Mubarak revolution, adding, “With all its force, Egypt will not allow itself to be taken backward.” It said Morsi was still reviewing the military’s statement, but added some parts of it “could cause disturbances in the complicated national scene.”

Egypt’s military issued a “last-chance” ultimatum Monday afternoon to Morsi, giving him 48 hours to meet the demands of millions of protesters in the streets seeking the ouster of the Islamist leader, or the generals would intervene and impose their own plan for the country.

Street clashes in Egypt

The military’s statement, read on state TV, put enormous pressure on Morsi to step down and sent giant crowds opposing the president in Cairo and other cities into delirious celebrations of singing, dancing and fireworks. But the ultimatum raised worries on both sides the military could outright take over, as it did after the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

It also raised the risk of a backlash from Morsi’s Islamist backers, including his powerful Muslim Brotherhood and hard-liners, some of whom once belonged to armed militant groups. Already they vowed to resist what they depicted as a threat of a coup against a legitimately elected president.

Amr, 71, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and representative to the World Bank, was assigned to the post of foreign minister in 2011, during the interim period after the fall of Mubarak but before national elections, when the country was governed by the military. He became the third person to hold the post in six months.