Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi
said Tuesday he would not step down as demanded by millions of protesters, vowing to protect his "constitutional legitimacy" with his life.
The death toll in violence involving Morsi's Islamist supporters near Cairo University rose to 16 on Wednesday and 200 people were wounded, state television quoted a Health Ministry spokesman as saying.
Security sources said pro-Morsi demonstrators clashed with security forces. Witnesses said they heard shotgun and rifle fire.
Addressing the nation in a speech carried live on state television, Islamist President Mohamed Morsi accused loyalists of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak of riding the current wave of protests to topple his regime.
"There is no substitute for legitimacy," said Morsi, who has received an ultimatum from the military to work out his differences with the opposition by Wednesday or it will intervene to oversee the implementation of its own political road map.
Morsi addressed Egyptian nation
"Before the January 25 revolution there were corruption, theft, oppression and election forgery," Morsi said, adding that "the January 25 revolution was nit violent. We've endured the adjustment period and held a fair election. The Egyptians showed the world on June 29, 2012 that they have elected a president freely."
"After I was elected, I swore to you that I would keep the nation and its stability," the president added. He admitted to have made mistakes but that much of the hardship his administration was facing was rooted in his predecessors.
"Thirty two families controlled the country and sucked the blood of the Egyptian people."
Morsi added that Mubarak supporters were interested in resuming power, but that "the old forces of crime are not after democracy. They are using (young people's) rage to create anarchy."
Morsi stressed that he was committed to the constitution and the Egyptian people, adding "we want a strong army that has the support of the people." He urged protesters to avoid violence.
Three hours after Morsi's speech, the army posted a message online titled "The final hours." The army said it "is willing to die defending the Egyptian people from terrorists, radicals and fools."
Earlier Tuesday, a military source said that Egypt's armed forces would suspend the constitution and dissolve an Islamist-dominated parliament under a draft political roadmap to be pursued if Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and his opponents fail to reach a power-sharing agreement by Wednesday.
Egyptian officials said that throughout Tuesday, seven people were killed in clashes between opponents and supporters of Morsi in the Giza neighborhood in Cairo.
Clashes in Giza
Sources told Reuters the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was still discussing details of the plan, intended to resolve a political crisis that has brought millions of protesters into the streets. The roadmap could be changed based on political developments and consultations.
Chief-of-staff General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi
called in a statement on Monday for Morsi to agree within 48 hours on power-sharing with other political forces, saying the military would otherwise set out its own roadmap for the country's future.
The president rebuffed the ultimatum and the main liberal and leftist opposition alliance has refused to talk to him, demanding along with youth activists that he resign.
The sources said the military intended to install an interim council, composed mainly of civilians from different political groups and experienced technocrats, to run the country until an amended constitution was drafted within months.
That would be followed by a new presidential election, but parliamentary polls would be delayed until strict conditions for selecting candidates were in force, they said.
Masses protest in Tahrir, Cairo (Photo: EPA)
Tents outside presidential palace (Photo: AFP)
Tahrir Square (Photo: AP)
Morsi's cabinet (Photo: AP)
The armed forces planned to open talks with the main opposition National Salvation Front and other political, religious and youth organizations once a deadline set for Morsi to reach a power-sharing agreement expires on Wednesday.
The sources would not say how the military intended to deal with Morsi if he refused to go quietly.
The emerging roadmap could be amended as a result of those consultations, they said. Among figures being considered as an interim head of state was the new president of the constitutional court, Adli Mansour.
The military sources said the new transition arrangements would be entirely different from the military rule that followed the overthrow of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak
in a 2011 popular uprising.
Then, the armed forces' council held effective power but was widely criticized by liberal and left-wing politicians for failing to enact vital economic and political reforms, and siding with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama
said the US is committed to democracy in Egypt, not any particular leader. Traveling in Tanzania, Obama said that although Morsi was democratically elected, the government must respect its opposition and minority groups.
Egypt's presidency said Morsi received a phone call from Obama, who said the US administration "supports peaceful democratic transition in Egypt."
Senior American officials told CNN the White House is attempting to urge Morsi to head for early elections. "That may be the only way that this confrontation can be resolved," an American official said.
According to CNN, the US ambassador to Egypt
and other officials are exerting pressure on the Morsi regime by constant phone-calls.
"We are trying to get President Morsy to appoint a new prime minister, a new Cabinet, and get rid of the prosecutor general," one senior official said. "This is the kind of outreach he needs to do to demonstrate to the opposition that he is governing all Egyptians. So far he hasn't done anything to show that."
According to CNN, officials have also warned the Egyptian military that a military coup would trigger US legislation cutting off all US aid, which totals about $1.5 billion per year.
"There are specific consequences," the senior official said. "As much as we appreciate their statement that they intend to protect the Egyptian people, they need to be careful about how they inject themselves into the situation. We are telling them that playing a role with their ultimatum to get the two sides
together is completely appropriate, but anything that looks like a military takeover is walking a very thin line."
In response, however, US State Department stated that reports that the United Stated has been urging early elections in Egypt were inaccurate.
Reuters, AP and AFP contributed to this report
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