Mursi defiant as army deadline nears
CAIRO, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi has made a televised speech in which he reiterated his refusal to leave office, and called on Egyptians to avoid violence and respect the rule of law.
In a 45-minute speech late Tuesday night on Egyptian state TV, Mursi said he was the legitimate leader of the country and that “he would give his life to constitutional legitimacy.” He added: “The January 25 revolution will achieve its goals. Legitimacy will be protected, and I will give my own life to protect it.”
Various sources have said the Egyptian army has formulated an initial road map which includes forming a transitional presidential council and drawing up a new constitution. The road map will be announced on Wednesday, when the 48-hour ultimatum given by the army to the political parties to resolve the crisis, expires.
Reuters quoted military sources on Wednesday as saying “the army had drafted a plan to sideline Mursi and suspend the constitution after the deadline passes.”
Reuters also reported that Muslim Brotherhood supporters clashed with security forces at Cairo University, where 16 people were killed and about 200 wounded.
Meanwhile, former Muslim Brotherhood general guide Mahdi Akif, told Asharq Al-Awsat that talk of an army ultimatum is “worthless chatter,” adding that “President Mursi will complete his term.”
Akif said he expected “the presidency to reach agreement with the opposition, which will end the crisis,” adding that “I have a strong feeling that Mursi will win and complete his term,” adding that “anything other than that will be chaos . . . how will the army confront millions of his supporters?”
Muslim Brotherhood protesters demand that Mursi is allowed to complete his constitutional presidential term, saying they would not allow anyone to attack the legitimacy brought by the ballot box.
In another development, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement which said “it received information that there were plans to attack protesters in Tahrir square and the Al-Ittihadiyah Palace, and to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for the attacks, in order to provoke people against them, and to spread sedition in the country.”
The statement added that “we wish that all Egyptians put the country’s interests first in an atmosphere of democracy within a modern civil state which resolves its differences democratically, away from violence, terrorism and murder.”
Security forces have implemented a number of measures to protect demonstrators. A security source told Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday that security forces have stationed a number of officers from the central security department in areas close to Tahrir Square and similar areas, in readiness to protect protesters.
With the US facing a dilemma on the situation in Egypt, the BBC quoted an unnamed American official on Wednesday stating: “We have not called for anything as specific as early elections. What we have said is that the government must respond to the legitimate concerns of the Egyptian people.”
By Mohamed Abdu Hassanein