African Union suspends Egypt from the 54-nation bloc, citing an unconstitutional power grab

Troops deployed in Suez and South Sinai provinces were put on maximum alert on Friday, following attacks on checkpoints and the airport in Northern Sinai, state media reported.

The commander of the Third Field Army, Major General Osama Askar, said, “State of readiness was raised to its maximum level” in the two provinces, according to state-run al-Ahram newspaper.

The announcement came after Cairo’s airspace was closed for 40 minutes and flights were diverted to other airports because of air force drills, airport sources told DPA.

African Union suspends Egypt

Meanwhile, the African Union Peace and Security Council has suspended Egypt from the 54-nation bloc, citing an unconstitutional power grab in the North African nation.

Ahead of the decision, Egypt’s ambassador in Addis Ababa denied that an unconstitutional power grab has taken place.

“The voice and presence of tens of millions of Egyptians in the streets and squares all over Egypt cannot be omitted — this voice has to be heard and understood and respected,” Mohamed Edrees told reporters after addressing the AU Peace and Security Council meeting.

“At the end the people are the source of all legitimacy.” “The military role in this is to support the people. The military did not instigate a coup and impose its own agenda on the people against their will, on the contrary, they supported the agenda of the people,” said Mr. Edrees.

Egypt closes Rafah crossing with Gaza Strip

In another development, Egypt has indefinitely closed the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip following attacks on security forces in northern Sinai, a security official said on Friday.

The crossing was opened in 2011 following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, whose administration opposed the Hamas rulers in Gaza, and helped Israel to enforce a blockade on the enclave.

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