Egypt's government, angered over critical remarks from Ankara, on Saturday ordered Turkey's ambassador to leave the country and downgraded bilateral relations to the level of charge d'affaires.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atty made the announcement in a press conference, saying that the Turkish ambassador to Egypt, Huseyin Avni Botsali, had been informed that he was persona non grata in the North African nation.

Turkey retaliated by barring Egypt's ambassador, Abderahman Salah El-Din, who had left Ankara after a previous spat and not returned.

Bilateral relations have rapidly deteriorated since the Egyptian military's July ouster of Islamic President Mohammed Morsi and the former head of state's arrest and ongoing trial on charges of inciting violence against protesters during his one-year rule.

After Morsi was freely elected in June 2012, he forged a close alliance with Turkey's Islamic-led government.

On Aug. 15, 2013, Turkish criticism of the violent eviction of pro-Morsi demonstrators from their protest camps in Cairo led to both countries' ambassadors being recalled for consultations.

Botsali returned to Cairo in early September, although Egyptian authorities warned they would not tolerate further Turkish "interference" in their country's internal affairs.

Ankara has repeatedly denounced the July 3 ouster of Morsi and the subsequent political crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Abdel Atty said Saturday's decision to expel Botsali was taken after recent "provocative" statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the current political situation in Egypt.

Egypt's military ousted Morsi amid widespread popular unrest.

Critics accused Morsi and the Brotherhood of doing little to address poverty and Egypt's struggling economy, of failing to advance the goals of the 2011 revolution that forced out strongman Hosni Mubarak and of seeking to monopolize power. EFE