Wed, Jul 03, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Egypt deeper in crisis as Morsi rebuffs army deadline

AFP, CAIRO

An Egyptian protester with the colors of the national flag painted on his face looks on during a protest against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Tahrir Square, Cairo, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Egypt’s political crisis deepened yesterday as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi snubbed an army ultimatum threatening to intervene if he did not meet the demands of the people, and five ministers led a spate of government resignations.

The opposition also expressed concern that the military was poised to play a political role in the deeply divided country, even as the army hastened to dampen talk of an imminent “coup.”

An army statement, read out on television on Monday, had given Morsi 48 hours to comply with its call, after millions of people took to the streets nationwide to demand the Islamist leader step down.

“If the demands of the people are not met in this period ... [the armed forces] will announce a future roadmap and measures to oversee its implementation,” it said.

In a statement issued overnight, the presidency insisted it would continue on its own path toward national reconciliation.

The army declaration had not been cleared by the presidency and could cause confusion, it said.

The presidency also denounced any declaration that would “deepen division” and “threaten the social peace.”

The president was consulting “with all national forces to secure the path of democratic change and the protection of the popular will,” the statement added.

Morsi’s supporters, who have also taken to the streets to defend his legitimacy, say any attempt to remove the democratically elected president from power is no less than a coup.

Egypt’s main opposition coalition yesterday said it would not support a “military coup” and trusted that the army statement giving political leaders 48 hours to resolve the current crisis did not mean it would assume a political role.

“We do not support a military coup,” the National Salvation Front said in a statement. “We trust the army’s declaration, reflected in their statement that they don’t want to get involved in politics, or play a political role,” it said.

The army quickly issued a denial there was any attempt at a coup, saying that Egyptian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s statement was merely aimed at “pushing all political sides to quickly find a solution to the current crisis.”

As the country’s political uncertainty grew, Morsi was hit with a spate of resignations, including by his foreign minister Mohammed Kamel Amr and the ministers of tourism, environment, investment and legal affairs.

Presidential spokesman Ehab Fahmy and Cabinet spokesman Alaa al-Hadidi also resigned, officials and the media reported.

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