Egypt's army suspends constitution; President Morsi no longer in power, military says

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A huge celebration has begun in Egypt's Tahrir Square, after military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says that Mohammed Morsi is out as president and the country's constitution has been suspended. Egypt's chief justice will hold power during the transitional period and set a date for early presidential elections.

Mass protests that have gone on since Sunday prompted Egypt's military to replace Morsi, the country's democratically elected leader. Morsi had remained defiant, insisting he would not resign. The military had set a deadline of Wednesday for Morsi to come to a compromise agreement with his opponents. Instead, Morsi remained defiant, insisting he would not resign.

Morsi and his supporters said they saw the army's demand as a de facto threat of a coup. On Morning Edition, NPR's Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel said Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters had vowed to "face a coup with martyrdom."

The anti-Morsi protesters who flooded Egyptian cities' streets in recent days said they wouldn't stop until the president, who was in office for a year, resigned, Leila reported. Among the things fueling the protesters' discontent: the country's deep economic problems.

The military, meanwhile, has said it will "sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool."

News outlets that are live blogging include:

-- Al-Jazeera

-- The Guardian

-- BBC News

The question of how the U.S. might adjust its political and financial dealings with Egypt could be a difficult one.

While acknowledging that Morsi's government "has been a great disappointment to the people of Egypt," Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Budget Committee for the State Department and Foreign Assistance, stated today that U.S. funds cannot continue after a coup.

In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Leahy says he hopes the military keeps its promise to allow civilians to govern the country. But he also said that "our law is clear: U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree."

While saying his committee would wait to see how things develop in Egypt, Leahy added, "As the world's oldest democracy, this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to the principle that transfers of power should be by the ballot, not by force of arms."

When the State Department outlined U.S. policy after a coup took place in Fiji in 2006, it said that while providing military and peacekeeping aid was forbidden, some aid could continue, "such as programs that deal with environmental issues, health issues such as HIV/AIDS and avian flu, counterproliferation, supporting refugees and support to non governmental organizations (NGOs)."

This story has been updated.

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