With a potentially violent showdown looming between Egypt's military and the Islamist backers of president Mohamed Morsi, the country's top generals summoned civilian political leaders to an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss a new interim government while moving tanks toward the presidential palace and restricting Morsi's travel — new signals of an impending military takeover. A top presidential adviser said a coup already was under way.
The developments came as street tensions intensified and a 48-hour deadline imposed by the military generals came and went.
By 6:30 pm (local time), military forces began moving around Cairo. Tanks and troops headed for the presidential palace — although it was unclear whether Morsi was inside.
Morsi's senior foreign policy adviser, Essam el-Haddad, issued an open letter Wednesday afternoon on his official Web page lamenting what he called the imminent takeover of Egypt's first freely elected government.
“As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page,” he wrote. “For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: Military coup.”
Security officials said the military's intelligence service had banned any travel by President Morsi and senior Islamist aides, including the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, and his influential deputy, Khairat el-Shater.
With millions of Egyptians waiting to see what the military would do, Morsi reiterated in a Facebook posting what he had said in a long and rambling televised speech Tuesday night, vowing to stay in power as Egypt's first democratically elected president.