A 48-hour ultimatum imposed by the Egyptian armed forces to resolve political stalemate has expired.
In a statement on Monday, the Egyptian army said it had to intervene after unprecedented rallies by million of Egyptians at the weekend to demand President Mohamed Morsi step down.
Later on Tuesday midnight, President Morsi delivered a speech to the nation in which he vowed to stay in power and die for his legitimacy, repeating several times he would pay with his life as the “price for legitimacy.”
The speech implied a challenge to the 48-hour ultimatum given by the military to all parties to come up with a solution for the political crisis, or it would impose a military-supervised roadmap for the future of the turmoil-stricken country.
Just hours before his Wednesday deadline for a resolution to the unrest, Egypt’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the military is ready to sacrifice its blood to defend the country against what he said were terrorists and fools.
The army has warned it will impose a “roadmap” for Egypt’s future if differences between Mr. Morsi and his opponents are not resolved by 5:00 p.m. local time (1500 UTC, 11:00 a.m. EDT) Wednesday.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has angrily dismissed the ultimatum as an attempt to stage a military coup. Its spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad, tells VOA the group will not take up arms and go after the military. But he says it will directly interfere in any attempt to force Morsi to leave.
“If the tanks roll up to the president, we’re going to stand in their way. And then the tanks have one of two choices: they roll over us and our dead bodies or they stand still and respect the legitimacy of our president,” he said. “There is no third option here.”
Sixteen people were killed and more than 200 were injured in clashes between Morsi’s opponents and supporters in Cairo overnight on Tuesday.
Opposition groups accuse Morsi of focusing on cementing the Brotherhood’s grip on power and failing to improve economic and social conditions more than two years after the revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down.