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Egypt’s president Morsi says he won’t step down; U.S. chimes in


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The constitution and domination of the legislature after elections held in late 2011-early 2012 are two of the Islamists’ and Brotherhood’s most valued victories — along with Morsi’s election last year.

A retired army general with close ties to the military confirmed the news agency report’s version of the road map.

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Hossam Sweilam said a panel of experts would draft a new constitution and the interim administration would be a presidential council led by the Supreme Constitutional Court’s chief justice and including the defense minister, representatives of political parties, youth groups, Al-Azhar Mosque and the Coptic Church.

He said the military envisioned a one-year transitional period before presidential elections are held.

The military spokesman, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, declined to confirm the details. "It is too early and we don’t want to jump into conclusions," he said.

At least one anti-Morsi TV station put up a clock counting down to the end of the military’s ultimatum, putting it at 4 p.m. Wednesday (1400 GMT, 10 a.m. EDT), though a countdown clock posted online by Morsi opponents put the deadline at 5 p.m. (1500 GMT, 11 a.m. EDT). The military did not give a precise hour.

Morsi also faced new fissures within his leadership.

Three government spokesmen — two for Morsi and one for the prime minister — were the latest to quit as part of high-level defections that underscored his increasing isolation and fallout from the military’s ultimatum. Five Cabinet ministers, including the foreign minister, resigned Monday, and a sixth, Sports Minister El-Amry Farouq, quit Tuesday.

One ultraconservative Salafi party, al-Nour, also announced its backing for early elections. The party was once an ally of Morsi but in recent months has broken with him.

Among the opposition crowds outside the Qasr el-Qobba presidential palace, one protester said he believes Morsi will not go easily. "He will only leave after a catastrophe. Lots of blood. And the military is the only party that can force him out then," said Haitham Farouk, an oil company employee joining a protest for the first time.


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He said the "epic" crowds showed how Egypt’s public has turned against Morsi and his Brotherhood, which opponents claim is the real power behind the president. "This is everybody, not just the educated or the political," Farouk said of the protesters. "They came down because only the Brotherhood gained in the past two years.

Morsi may try half-measures to satisfy the army, he said, "but the people are not going back until he leaves. After what we have seen in the past year, we will not settle for less."

In a significant move, opposition parties and the youth movement behind the demonstrations agreed that reform leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei would represent them in any negotiations on the country’s political future. The move appeared aimed at presenting a unified voice in a post-Morsi system, given the widespread criticism that the opposition has been too fragmented to present an alternative to the Islamists.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said the opposition is to blame for its own woes, failing to perform well in the elections, and has now decided to "brush up to military power."

"We can’t keep running elections until (the Brotherhood) loses," he wrote in a Tweet. He said the opposition should "man up" to its responsibilities and come up with a better strategy "or accept democratic outcomes."

Despite heated rhetoric among many Islamists about standing up to the military, one cleric from the Salafi movement warned against repeating the scenario of Algeria, when the military negated elections that Islamists won in the 1990s, and the Islamists responded with a yearslong, bloody insurgency.

The result, Adel Nasr wrote on a Salafi website, was that "more than a hundred thousand were killed and ... their popularity went down," costing Islamists both political power and the power of their religious message.



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