Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi insisted on his ‘constitutional legitimacy” during a televised address on Tuesday and called on the army to withdraw its ultimatum to intervene if the political parties do not resolve differences.
The president said he stood ready to “give my life” to defend constitutional legitimacy, echoing comments by a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who urged supporters to be ready to sacrifice their lives to prevent a coup.
In the speech, which continued after more than 40 minutes, he admitted his first year in office had been difficult and he faced challenges from ‘corrupt remnants” of the old regime.
In a response to a military ultimatum to share power with his opponents, he said he had tried such dialogue before and had been unsuccessful. But he insisted he would continue fulfilling the duties to which he had been democratically elected.
‘The people chose me in free and fair elections,” Mursi said, adding that he would “continue to shoulder his responsibilities” as Egypt struggles with the legacy of decades of authoritarian rule.
The president said that respect for the constitutional order was the “only guarantee against further bloodshed,” in a veiled attack against an ultimatum issued by the army for him to strike a deal with his opponents or have one imposed.
The president renewed his appeal to the opposition to join a dialogue, an appeal it has already repeatedly rejected as a sham.
While rejecting the army’s ultimatum to intervene if political forces fail to reach a resolution, the Islamist president urged respect for the armed forces, saying the army was the biggest asset of the Egyptian people.
Egyptian army drafts plan to suspend constitution, parliament
The Egyptian armed forces have drafted a political plan that will suspend the constitution, dissolve an Islamist-dominated parliament, and establish an interim council led by the country’s chief justice if the country’s parties do not resolve their differences, military sources told Reuters.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) gave Islamist President Mohammad Mursi and the opposition until Wednesday to reach a solution.
The sources said that SCAF was still deliberating over the details and the plan, which is meant to resolve a political crisis that brought to the streets millions of demonstrators.
The army intends to allow an interim council to take effect, said the sources, adding that it will be made up of mainly civilians from different political backgrounds and experience.
But they did not specify how the army was planning to deal with the Islamist president if he refused to step down quietly.
However, sources told Reuters that the plan may be amended depending on political developments and discussions.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, whose statement was broadcast live on state television, said on Monday that Mursi has 48 hours to agree on power-sharing with other political parties, warning that the army would implement its own roadmap for Egypt.
The president rejected the ultimatum and the opposition alliance, which has refused to talk to Mursi.
Protesters against him turned to a new target, massing a giant crowd outside the Qasr el-Qobba presidential palace where Mursi has been working in recent days, in addition to filling wide avenues outside another palace, central Tahrir Square and main squares in cities nationwide, according to Associated Press.
It was not clear if Mursi was in the palace.
Mursi’s supporters also increased their presence in the streets, after his Muslim Brotherhood and hard-line Islamist leaders called them out to defend the legitimacy of the country’s first freely elected president. Tens of thousands held marches in Cairo and other cities. Clashes broke out around pro-Mursi marches in several parts of the capital and a string of cities to the north and south. Mursi opponents stormed Brotherhood offices in two towns.
With the clock ticking on the military’s ultimatum, many in the anti-Mursi and pro-Mursi camps were vowing to fight to the end.
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