Morsi calls on Egyptian army to withdraw ultimatum
US leans on Morsi to reach agreement through talks
Rebuffing the army’s ultimatum to force a resolution, Mr Morsi said he had not been consulted and would pursue his own plans for national reconciliation.
His justice minister denied an al-Arabiya television report that the government had resigned today.
“The government has not submitted its resignation and what has been raised on that matter is not true,” justice minister Ahmed Suleiman told reporters after a meeting of the rump cabinet under prime minister Hisham Kandil.
Six ministers who are not members of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood submitted their resignations yesterday, and the official MENA news agency said the ministers of defence and the interior did not attend the cabinet session.
Newspapers across the political spectrum saw the army’s 48-hour deadline as a turning point. “Last 48 hours of Muslim Brotherhood rule,” the opposition daily El Watan declared. “Egypt awaits the army,” said the state-owned El Akhbar.
The confrontation has pushed the most populous Arab nation closer to the brink amid a deepening economic crisis two years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, raising concern in Washington, Europe and neighbouring Israel.
Protesters remained encamped overnight in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and protest leaders called for another mass rally this evening to try to force the president out.
Senior members of Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood used the word “coup” to describe the military ultimatum, backed by a threat that the generals will otherwise impose their own roadmap for the nation.
In a statement issued nine hours after Gen al-Sisi delighted Mr Morsi’s opponents by effectively ordering the president to heed the demands of demonstrators, the president’s office used considerably less direct language to indicate he would go his own way.
“The president of the republic was not consulted about the statement issued by the armed forces,” it said. “The presidency sees that some of the statements in it carry meanings that could cause confusion in the complex national environment.
“The presidency confirms that it is going forward on its previously plotted path to promote comprehensive national reconciliation ... regardless of any statements that deepen divisions between citizens.”
The Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, said the Egyptian people alone had the right to draw a roadmap for the nation and had done so in the constitution approved in a referendum last December.
It called on the people “to rally to defend constitutional legitimacy and express their refusal of any coup against it.”
The White House said president Barack Obama, visiting Tanzania, had encouraged Mr Morsi to respond to the protests and “underscored that the current crisis can only be resolved through a political process”.
Highlighting the huge scale of anti- Morsi protests, an opposition TV station broadcast aerial footage of vast crowds thronging Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, spilling over a wide adjoining area and stretching across the Nile bridges.
The armed forces used helicopters to monitor the crowds on Sunday and yesterday.
Attacks on Brotherhood offices have added to feelings among Islamists that they are under siege. Some Brotherhood leaders, who swept a series of votes last year, said they would look to put their own supporters on the streets.