Events in Egypt place the potential rise of a new leader and fall of an old one closely juxtaposed, with ex-president Mohammed Morsi put on trial Tuesday — following the second trial that was put off for over a month — as self-appointed-Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi — who was once named the defense minister by Morsi during his time in office. This began the process towards becoming the next president. While acting defense minister for Morsi, General Sisi had pledged to maintain a democratic government sans the interference of military efforts in politics.
Now, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has given General Sisi approval for the presidential run, according to a statement released Tuesday. The council called his run in the elections “a mission considered by the Council as a national duty,” according to the release. In the statement, the council notes that, “The final judge on this score will be the balloting boxes.”
General Sisi was involved in the removal of the nation’s first president put in office via a free election, Morsi, who’s contrastingly exigent present position is made more starkly divergent by the antics that took place during his trial Tuesday. According to the Associated Press, Morsi was tried from his standing position in a solitary soundproof cage made of glass and metal. In a white uniform, he was said to have been pacing and shouting “Who are you? Tell me!” at the judge, angrily stating that he should not be on trial, and asking “Do you know where I am?” from his cage. The Judge, Shabaan el-Shami, replied “I am the head of Egypt’s criminal court!” to Morsi’s angry queries.
Until recently, the ex-president has been kept imprisoned in whereabouts unknown until he was taken to court for the first time in November for charges pertaining to a prison break that took place during the 2011 uprising against former Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak — a break that authorities are claiming was done intentionally in order to undermine the stability of the country at the time. “These acts were committed with the terrorist aim of terrifying the public and spreading chaos,” said a prosecutor to the court.
Morsi is on trial alongside 130 others — most of whom are being tried in absentia — including individuals from both Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas groups, with the faced punishment being life in prison. Violent protests have erupted from those still supporting Morsi, resulting in a drive-by shooting and attacks on police officers, and eventual use of military forces, according to the Associated Press.
A lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders are among the 130 other individuals on trial alongside Morsi, said that the trial was meant to accomplish the “denigrating” of both Morsi and the Brotherhood. The soundproof cage has been explained as a method of controlling the outbursts from Morsi that were disruptive during the last trial as he insisted that he was “the president of the republic.” There is a microphone in the cage, which the judge has management of. At present, the Associated Press reports that the trial will be adjourned until February 22.