Egypt’s army gives parties 48 hours to resolve crisis

imageThe army would offer a “road map” for peace if Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his opponents failed to heed “the will of the people”, it said.

Given the inability of politicians from all sides to agree until now, it seems unlikely Mr Morsi can survive in power, says the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Cairo.

On Sunday millions rallied in cities nationwide, urging Mr Morsi to quit.

Protests continued on Monday, and eight people died as activists stormed and ransacked the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which the president belongs.

He became Egypt’s first Islamist president on 30 June 2012, after winning an election considered free and fair following the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi defiant

An undated photograph posted on the president’s Facebook page showed Mr Morsi (right) smiling with Gen Sisi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil
The head of the armed forces described Sunday’s protests as an “unprecedented” expression of the popular will.

In a statement read out by a spokesman on state television on Monday evening, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the army would not get involved in politics or government.

An undated photograph posted on the president’s official Facebook page on Monday evening showed Mr Morsi smiling with Gen Sisi and Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.

But to many, the situation looks like a military coup in the making, says our correspondent.

The opposition movement behind the protests, Tamarod (Rebel), welcomed the statement, but said it would continue demonstrations to force Mr Morsi out.

There were scenes of flag-waving jubilation in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where Tamarod supporters believed the statement spelt the end for a president they accuse of putting the Brotherhood’s interests ahead of the country’s as a whole.

As five helicopters flew over the square with huge Egyptian flags hanging below them, the crowds chanted: “The army and the people are one hand.”

But a senior member of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) rejected the military statement.

“Solutions will be in the framework of the constitution,” Yasser Hamza, a member of the FJP’s legal committee, told Al Jazeera TV. “The age of military coups is over.”

President Obama:”It’s not our job to chose who Egypt’s leaders are, we do want to make sure that all voices are heard”
The opposition movement had given Mr Morsi until Tuesday afternoon to step down and call fresh presidential elections, or else face a campaign of civil disobedience.

On Saturday, the group said it had collected more than 22 million signatures – more than a quarter of Egypt’s population – in support.

But Mr Morsi was defiant in an interview published on Sunday, rejecting calls for early presidential elections.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad Haddad told the BBC the roadmap referred to by Gen Sisi did not necessarily increase pressure on the president to call early presidential elections.

Rather, he said, the pressure was on Egypt’s constitutional court to swiftly issue a new parliamentary law and to call for parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, the al-Watan website said the ministers of tourism, environment, communication and legal affairs had resigned in an act of “solidarity with the people’s demand to overthrow the regime”.

US President Barack Obama has called for restraint on all sides, saying the potential for violence remained.

Although it was not the job of the US to choose Egypt’s leaders, it wanted to make sure all voices were heard, said Mr Obama during a visit to Tanzania.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS.