Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Addresses Deadline, Plans Own Path
* Army gives Mursi, opponents 48 hours to agree
* Mursi says army statement may cause “confusion”
* Liberals say no interest in talking to Mursi
* Islamists angry, warn of own street protests (Adds statement on Mursi phone call with Obama)
By Alastair Macdonald and Alexander Dziadosz
CAIRO, July 2 (Reuters) – President Mohamed Mursi rebuffed an army ultimatum to force a resolution to Egypt’s political crisis, saying on Tuesday that he had not been consulted and would pursue his own plans for national reconciliation.
The Islamist leader described as potentially confusing Monday’s 48-hour deadline set by the head of the armed forces for him to agree on a common platform with liberal rivals who have drawn millions into the streets demanding Mursi’s resignation.
Members of his Muslim Brotherhood have used the word “coup” to describe the military manoeuvre, which carries the threat of the generals imposing their own road map for the nation.
But in a statement issued at nearly 2 a.m., fully nine hours after General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delighted Mursi’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 try to take little notice.
“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.”
Official video was released showing Mursi meeting the uniformed Sisi. Their body language seemed awkward, although it was unclear when it was shot.
The statement from Mursi’s office continued, “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.”
Describing civilian rule as a great gain from the revolution of 2011, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, in office for just a year, said he would not let the clock be turned back.
But in referring to his plans for reconciliation as those he had spelt out before, he was speaking of offers that have already been rejected by the opposition, leaving it improbable that such compromises would bear fruit before Sisi’s deadline.
Mursi also spoke to U.S. President Barack Obama by phone on Monday, the presidency said in a separate statement. Mursi stressed that Egypt was moving forward with a peaceful democratic transition based on the law and constitution, it said.
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Suhaib Salem / Reuters
Amr Nabil / AP
Egypt’s Morsi calls on military to withdraw ultimatum
LIVE VIDEO: Protesters gather in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt.
CAIRO – Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi demanded Tuesday that the country’s armed forces withdraw a 48-hour ultimatum for him to share power with his political opponents, and said he would not be dictated to.
“President Mohammed Morsi asserts his grasp on constitutional legitimacy and rejects any attempt to deviate from it, and calls on the armed forces to withdraw their warning and refuses to be dictated to internally or externally,” a tweet from the Egyptian presidency account said, according to Reuters.
The clock was ticking for Morsi to meet the demands of millions of protesters seeking his ouster and fresh elections after an ultimatum issued to the Islamist leader by his own armed forces.
If Morsi does not meet the demands by Wednesday, the military has said it will impose its own “road map” for the future.
Meanwhile, in the ongoing chaos, Egyptian security and health officials said seven people were killed in three separate clashes between Morsi opponents and supporters on Tuesday. Violence during the protests over the weekend had already left 16 people dead and hundreds injured.
President Barack Obama and the United Nations have each urged Morsi to listen to his people, as a massive crowd gathered once again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a briefing Tuesday that they were following the “extremely tense situation” in Egypt with “great concern.”
“We urge all political parties and social groups to urgently engage in a serious national dialogue in order to find a solution to the political crisis and prevent an escalation of violence,” Colville said.
“We call on the president of Egypt to listen to the demands and wishes of the Egyptian people, expressed during these huge protests over the past few days, and to address key issues raised by the opposition and civil society in recent months, as well as to heed the lessons of the past in this particularly fragile situation,” he added.
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