AFRICANGLOBE – The Egyptian army has said it will suspend the constitution, dissolve parliament and force fresh elections if politicians cannot meet a looming deadline to resolve the country’s political crisis.
The announcement on Tuesday came a day after the military gave politicians 48 hours to come to an agreement and calm mass protests against the rule of President Mohamed Morsi – leaving only 24 hours for a solution to be found.
An army source told reporters that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was still discussing details and the plan, and it could change based on political developments and consultations.
But with the deadline looming, hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters were on the streets of Cairo on Tuesday evening.
Opposition groups, such as the Tamarod, have been emboldened by the army’s statement and have called on its supporters to remain on the streets until the deadline has passed.
Pressure on Morsi continued to mount as the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, called on him to engage in “serious national dialogue” with his opponents.
US President Barack Obama contacted Morsi by telephone to urge him to listen to all Egyptian voices, “including the many Egyptians demonstrating throughout the country”.
More of Morsi’s cabinet and advisers resigned on Tuesday, with foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr following five others out of the door.
The president also lost the support of Sami Enan, his military adviser, who resigned and said the army would not “abandon the will of the people”.
Committed to Democracy
In an interview a spokeswoman for the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the party was committed to democracy and the president would call for a national dialogue to let every party take part.
When asked if the party was fully behind Mohamed Morsi as president, she said: “The Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood are behind democracy… we are here to support the Egyptian will.”
Asked the question again, she replied: “We are behind the will of the people. In democratic countries are known … by elections. The only way to change is not through protestation. We have a democratic path to go through.”
“We are totaly against any person trying to get our country back to dictatorship…. We are with any initiative that takes things back to normal… as long as it is under the umbrella of the constitution. We are with any solution.”
Egyptian Army Statement
The army on Tuesday also reiterated that its initial statement on Monday was not a de facto “coup”.
“The doctrine and culture of the Armed Forces do not allow the adoption of any “military-coup-based” policies. The Egyptian military always stands by the will and aspirations of the glorious Egyptian people for change and reform.
“The aim of the Armed Forces’ statement is to push all political parties nationwide to quickly find solutions for the current crisis and reach a formula of national compromise that complies with the demands of the Egyptian people.”
The president was due to issue a statement later on Tuesday, but has not spoken directly on the crisis in days.
In a statement issued nine hours after the army deadline was imposed, the president’s office said: “The president of the republic was not consulted about the statement issued by the armed forces.
“The presidency sees that some of the statements in it carry meanings that could cause confusion in the complex national environment.”
Morsi met the head of the armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for a second day, the president’s office said later on Tuesday.
However, in response to the army deadline, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohamed al-Beltagui urged Morsi’s supporters to stand ready to sacrifice their lives to prevent a coup.
“Seeking martyrdom to prevent this coup is what we can offer to the previous martyrs of the revolution,” he said in a statement, a reference to more than 800 people killed during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.
The protests have drawn millions of people onto the streets, with a majority of them demanding Morsi’s resignation.
The June 30 Front, an opposition umbrella group which includes Tamarod, on Tuesday said it had chosen Mohamed ElBaradei to represent it at any politicial transition.