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Egyptian Military Delivers Ultimatum


The commander of Egypt's military has issued an ultimatum to pro- and antigovernment protesters, giving them 48 hours to resolve their differences or face unspecified actions.

In a statement broadcast on television on July 1, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the army will offer its own "road map" for peace if President Muhammad Morsi and his opponents fail to reach an agreement.

"The armed forces repeat the call [to political parties] to carry out the nation's demands," Sisi said, "and [the armed forces] issue a 48-hour ultimatum to everyone as a last chance to cope with this historic situation that the nation is going through. It will not forgive any power that will not shoulder its responsibilities."

The head of the armed forces described the protests against Morsi as an "unprecedented" expression of the popular will.

But he added that the military would not get involved in politics or government.

The main opposition National Salvation Front applauded Sisi's statement, while demonstrators on Cairo's Tahrir Square cheered at news of the military's move.

"The statement was good, but I feel like 48 hours is too long," one protester told Reuters. "[Morsi] cannot stay here longer than 48 hours. The past year that he's been president is more than enough."

The statement from the military came after opposition protesters in Egypt stormed and set fire to the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The protesters threw files from the windows and looted furnishings on July 1, one day after 16 people were killed in nationwide protests against the government.

Four members of Morsi’s cabinet announced their resignations on July 1 amid mounting pressure. The ministers of tourism, environment, communication, and legal affairs handed in their resignations together to Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.

Protests on June 30 saw millions of opposition protesters take to the streets of Cairo and cities around the country in a massive display of anger and frustration with Morsi, who is a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood political movement.

Critics accuse Morsi of giving too much power to Islamists and failing to tackle the country's economic problems.

The June 30 protests were the largest seen in Egypt in the two and a half years of turmoil since the ouster of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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