Egypt’s Morsi rejects army’s 48-hour ultimatum – BBC News

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Egyptian opponents of President Mohammed Morsi protest in Tahrir Square in Cairo

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President Morsi has criticised an army ultimatum

Egypt’s president has rejected an army ultimatum that the country’s crisis be resolved by Wednesday, amid deadly protests across the capital.

Mohammed Morsi insisted on his constitutional legitimacy as president and said he would not be dictated to.

It is clear he expects the military to depose him in the coming hours, says the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Cairo.

The army earlier leaked details of its draft “roadmap” for Egypt’s future to the BBC.

The plan would see new presidential elections, the suspension of the new constitution and the dissolution of parliament.

Clashes in Cairo between opponents and supporters of President Morsi killed seven people on Tuesday, the health ministry said.

The army warned on Monday that it would step in unless a solution was found, giving Mr Morsi 48 hours to find agreement with the opposition. That ultimatum expires around 16:30 (15:30 BST) on Wednesday.

Clashes spreading

Violence broke out between pro- and anti-Morsi activists at several points in the capital on Tuesday, with officials reporting casualties at hospitals in the north, south and centre of the capital.

More clashes were reported across Egypt as leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood – the Islamist party to which Mr Morsi belongs – urged their supporters on to the streets, adds our correspondent.

Tamarod (Rebel)

A woman holds up a petition demanding President Mohammed Morsi's resignation (17 May 2013)

The Tamarod movement says more than 22 million people have signed a petition complaining that:

  • Security has not been restored since the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak
  • The poor “have no place” in society
  • The government has had to “beg” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $4.8bn loan to help shore up the public finances
  • There has been “no justice” for people killed by security forces during the uprising and at anti-government protests since then
  • “No dignity is left” for Egyptians or their country
  • The economy has “collapsed”, with growth poor and inflation high
  • Egypt is “following in the footsteps” of the US

The president earlier met the head of the armed forces, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for a second consecutive day on Tuesday. They did not give any details of the talks, which also included Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.

Military sources told the BBC the president’s position was becoming “weaker” with every passing minute and suggested that under the draft plan, he could be replaced by a council of cross-party civilians and technocrats ahead of new elections.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in central Cairo on Tuesday afternoon to demand Mr Morsi step down.

Waving flags, the crowds chanted slogans including: “The people have brought down the regime.” When several military helicopters flew ahead, they erupted in cheers.

But demonstrations that had been jubilant when the army’s ultimatum was interpreted as a coup-in-the-making turned increasingly confrontational later in the day.

Mr Morsi was put under further pressure by the resignation of six ministers from his government on Monday, including Foreign Minister Kamel Amr.

On Tuesday, the spokesmen for the presidency and the cabinet were also reported to have quit.

The UN high commissioner for human rights called on the president to engage in a “serious national dialogue” to end the political crisis, and said nothing should be done to undermine the democratic process.

On Sunday, millions of flag-waving supporters of Tamarod (Rebel) – the opposition movement behind the protests – had rallied nationwide, urging the president to step down.

Eight people died as activists stormed and ransacked the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters on Monday.

Mr Morsi became Egypt’s first Islamist president on 30 June 2012, after winning an election considered free and fair following the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

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