Morsi, Egypt army pledge lives in ‘Final Hours’ showdown

2013-07-03 08:31

Cairo – Egypt’s army commander and Islamist President Mohamed Morsi each pledged his life to defy the other as the hour approached today 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.

Military sources told Reuters the army had drafted a plan to sideline Morsi and suspend the constitution after a 5pm 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.”

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