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Army Gives Morsi 48 Hours to Achieve Reconciliation
July 1, 2013

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The Egyptian military has issued an ultimatum, instructing President Mohamed Morsi’s government and its political opponents to come to some formal agreement or the generals will step in, as they did in 2011, when Hosni Mubarak fled from power.

In response, Morsi rejected the army's timeline and said he would pursue his own course for national reconciliation.

The army promised to consult far and wide but also to show a firm hand in maintaining the stability in the country. The statement was in response to the millions of people demonstrating against Morsi and the government in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and several other cities. Most of the protests were nonviolent. Some were not, including the ransacking of the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood; in that attack, some parts of the building were set on fire. Despite the huge numbers of people in the streets, the death toll from confrontations has been low: Sixteen people have died in the past few days.

The army announcement came from chief-of-staff General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who spoke of a new “road map” for the country. Sisi later met with Morsi and with Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, but no further statements were announced. Announcing their resignations were four government ministers, heading up the departments of communication, environment, legal affairs, and tourism.

The National Salvation Front, one of the main opposition political groups, applauded the army’s announcement. Former presidential candidate Amr Moussa, now a member of the National Salvation Front, called on the current government to share power with the opposition, echoing a call a day earlier from another high-profile opposition leader, Mohamed El-Baradei.

The opposition claimed to have the signatures of 22 million people who had called for Morsi to step aside. Other opposition figures called for early presidential elections. Morsi, elected in 2012, is serving a four-year term.

Spokesmen for the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the violence at their party headquarters and called for peaceful discussions between the government and the opposition.

In the wider world, Morsi found few supporters of the current situation. Both U.S. President Barack Obama and representatives of the European Union urged the adoption of a power-sharing agreement.

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