Egypt’s Morsi Refuses To Step Down, Despite Ultimatum

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi is refusing to step down from his position, despite an ultimatum given to him by the country’s powerful military.

The military on Tuesday announced that the government has until Wednesday evening to “meet the demands of the people,” otherwise it will step in to restore order.

The military called the 48-hour ultimatum a “final chance to shoulder the burden of a historic moment in our country.” Later on, a military spokesman explained that the ultimatum was a way to push all factions toward a quick solution and a national consensus.

In the past week, tensions have escalated again between Morsi and his opponents, who believe that the president is forcing Islamist laws on Egypt. Clashes so far have killed at least 23 people and wounded hundreds more.

Protesters gathered again in Tahrir Square over the weekend –the same site of a massive protest that ousted the nation’s former leader in the 2011 Arab Spring.

But it appears that Morsi will not listen to the military. The Egyptian president released a message on Twitter on Tuesday, saying that he “asserts his adherence to constitutional legitimacy and rejects any attempt to breach it and calls on the armed forces to withdraw their ultimatum and rejects any domestic or foreign dictates.”

After releasing the defiant message on Twitter, Morsi then went on Egyptian television and delivered a public address, in which he vowed to protect the “legitimacy” of his democracy with his life.

The statement from Morsi could set up a major confrontation between his supporters and opponents, who are angry over his failure to introduce reforms more than two years after Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

Along with protesters, Morsi supporters have also taken to the streets in force to rally around the Muslim Brotherhood. Tens of thousands of them have held marches in Cairo and other cities around Egypt. Clashes have been seen at several pro-Morsi rallies, while opponents have stormed Muslim Brotherhood offices in two towns.

[Image via Wilson Dias/ABr]