Egyptian army prepared to sacrifice blood in the 'Final Hours'
Egyptian protesters calling for the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi react as they watch his speech on a big screen (Mahmud Khaled / AFP)
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In a statement that was headlined “The Final hours,” Egypt’s high command said on Wednesday that the army was ready to sacrifice blood to defend the Egyptian people against “terrorists or fools” as the death toll mounted in protester clashes.
The post on the official Facebook page of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), headed by armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said: "We swear to God that we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool."
The statement was issued three hours after Morsi gave a televised address to reject an ultimatum from Sisi that he share power with his opponents or face a military solution by 5 p.m. (1500 GMT).
A military source said the statement made clear that the armed forces would not abandon their demands, according to Reuters.
Morsi insisted on his ‘constitutional legitimacy” during the address and called on the army to withdraw its ultimatum to intervene if the political parties do not resolve differences.
The president also said he stood ready to “give my life” to defend constitutional legitimacy, echoing comments by a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who urged supporters to be ready to sacrifice their lives to prevent a coup.
In the speech, which continued after more than 40 minutes, he admitted his first year in office had been difficult and he faced challenges from ‘corrupt remnants” of the old regime.
In a response to a military ultimatum to share power with his opponents, he said he had tried such dialogue before and had been unsuccessful. But he insisted he would continue fulfilling the duties to which he had been democratically elected.
‘The people chose me in free and fair elections,” Morsi said, adding that he would “continue to shoulder his responsibilities” as Egypt struggles with the legacy of decades of authoritarian rule.
The president said that respect for the constitutional order was the “only guarantee against further bloodshed,” in a veiled attack against an ultimatum issued by the army for him to strike a deal with his opponents or have one imposed.
Death toll in Cairo University clash rises
The spar between the presidency and the military came as the death toll in violence involving Islamist supporters of Morsi near Cairo University rose to 17.
State television quoted a Health Ministry spokesman saying that 200 people were wounded, while security sources said pro-Morsi demonstrators clashed with security forces.
Witnesses heard shotgun and rifle fire and teargas enveloped the area. Television pictures showed ambulances taking away casualties, small fires burning and hundreds of men, many with the beards typical of Morsi’s Islamist supporters, some of them weeping and others chanting slogans.
Meanwhile, Supporters and opponents of Morsi clashed on the streets of Alexandria on Tuesday (July 2) throwing rocks and glass at each other.