Egypt′s army holds crisis talks after ultimatum deadline passes | News | DW | 03.07.2013
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Egypt's army holds crisis talks after ultimatum deadline passes

The Egyptian army has been holding talks with opposition and religious leaders about its next steps. A deadline for President Morsi to reach a compromise deal or face an imposed military solution has expired.

Opposition spokesman Mohamed ElBaradei, along with Egypt's top Muslim cleric and a Coptic Pope met General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for talks on measures that the military threatened to impose on Wednesday.

In a last minute statement before the military's deadline expired between 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. local time (1400 to 1500 GMT), President Mohammed Morsi criticized the military for "taking only one side."

He added that respecting his electoral legitimacy was the only way to prevent violence.

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Decisive point

On Monday, the Egyptian army had given Morsi 48 hours to reach a compromise deal with the opposition - or face an imposed military solution.

The political wing of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood reportedly refused an invitation to meet with the armed forces commander, and promised to stand firm against any pressure brought by the army for Morsi to step down. In a late night speech Tuesday, Morsi said that he would not resign and that doing so would threaten Egypt's constitutional legitimacy.

"The people chose me," Morsi said. "The people designated me through free, clean elections." The president also said he was willing to "give my life" for the sake of Egypt's stability. The Islamist leader was elected in a close runoff with 51.7 percent of the vote last June, becoming the country's first democratically elected president.

The opposition Tamarod movement, which organized mass protests on Sunday described by the army as the largest in Egyptian history, said the speech amounted to a threat.

For a third consecutive day, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets both to support and oppose the president.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Egypt's health ministry anounced that unidentified gunmen had killed 16 Morsi supporters and injured 200 more at a rally supporting the president outside Cairo University.

This followed several news agency reports, citing medics, of seven deaths in the unrest on Tuesday. As with the public protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 revolution, demonstrations in the capital, Cairo, have focused heavily on the central Tahrir Square.

hc/mkg (Reuters, AFP; AP, dpa)

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