(CAIRO) — Egypt remained in turmoil on Wednesday after President Mohammed Morsi rejected the military’s ultimatum that he bow to the will of the people to change the political course of the nation.
Morsi, the first elected Islamist of an Arab state, tweeted on Tuesday that he would not cede to the military’s demands, instead insisting that “constitutional legitimacy” would rule the day in Egypt following several days of protests that have grown in intensity.
Later, Morsi appeared to take a more conciliatory tone in a televised address to the nation in which he seemed to plead for more time to work on Egypt’s problems — including a faltering economy — while admitting to some mistakes.
However, time appears to be running out for Morsi and his regime, which have been criticized by Egyptians more attuned to the secular rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was driven out of power by a revolution 30 months ago.
While Mubarak was an authoritarian, Morsi’s opponents claim Egypt is now swinging toward a strict Islamist state that would limit civil liberties they’ve enjoyed for decades.
On Monday, Morsi was given 48 hours to end the standoff between his supporters and opponents by Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, the commander of Egypt’s armed forces.
The consequences of inaction were vague, although al-Sissi said he would enact a “road map” to fix Egypt, which many interpret to be a military coup.
Washington is watching the developments with keen interest since a military takeover could spur widespread violence among those who put Morsi into power one year ago and the president’s foes.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN