Morsi, Egypt army pledge lives in “Final Hours” showdown
CAIRO – Reuters
Anti-President Mohamed Mursi protesters watch a speech by him on TV at a cafe at Tahrir Square in Cairo July 2, 2013. REUTERS photoEgypt’s army commander and President Mohamed Morsi each pledged his life to defy the other as the hour approached on Wednesday that will trigger a military takeover that was prompted by mass demonstrations.
The military chiefs issued a call to battle in a statement headlined “The Final Hours.” They said they were willing to shed blood against “terrorists and fools” after Morsi refused to give up his elected office. Morsi said, “The price ... is my life.”
As a mass of revellers on Cairo’s Tahrir Square feted the army for saving the revolutionary democracy won there two years ago, supporters of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood denounced a “military coup.” Some clashed with security forces at Cairo University, where 16 people died and about 200 were wounded.
Deadline ends at 5 pm
Military sources told Reuters the army had drafted a plan to sideline Morsi and suspend the constitution after a 5 p.m. (1500 GMT) deadline passes. Coordinated with political leaders, an interim council would rule pending new elections. The sources would not say what was planned for an uncooperative president.
Facing the expiry of a 48-hour ultimatum set by the head of the armed forces that he should agree a power-sharing deal with his rivals, Morsi broadcast a defiant, if somewhat rambling, address to the nation to defend his “legitimacy” - a word he used repeatedly in the course of 45 minutes. Liberal opposition leaders, who have vowed not to negotiate with Morsi since the ultimatum was issued, immediately denounced his refusal to go as a declaration of “civil war.” The youth movement that organised the mass protests urged the Republican Guard to arrest Morsi immediately and present him for trial.
Three hours after his midnight television appearance, the military high command responded with a post on its Facebook page. The post said they, too, were willing to lay down their lives to defend their position - one which they described as defending the Egyptian people from “terrorists, radicals and fools.” A military source said the message came from General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the armed forces commander appointed by Morsi last year, who issued the ultimatum to politicians on Monday. It was posted on the official Facebook page of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF. It entered history books as Egypt’s ruling institution after the army pushed aside Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising of early 2011.
“It is an honour for us to die rather than that anyone should terrorise or threaten the Egyptian people,” it said. “We swear to God, we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool. “Long live Egypt and its people.”
Egyptian army secures state TV studios: Sources
Egyptian troops with armoured vehicles have secured the central Cairo studios of state television on Wednesday, security sources said.
As a deadline approaches when the army high command is expected to step in and reorder Egypt's political institutions, the sources said staff not involved in working on live broadcasts had left the building.
'Egypt's army has no set time for statements'
Egypt's army said it had set no times for issuing statements or speeches on Wednesday as a deadline loomed that would trigger a military takeover backed by protesters.
Army sources had previously said the army would issue a statement after the deadline expires at about 5 p.m.
The military had on Monday given politicians 48 hours to agree a resolution of the political standoff, saying that if they failed to do so, it would impose its own road map.