Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi refused to resign Wednesday and a top adviser described developments in the North African nation as a “military coup,” as a military deadline to defuse the political crisis expired.
Mr. Morsi’s office said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that the president is committed to his “roadmap,” and the formation of a coalition government and an independent commission to reform the constitution.
Essam al-Haddad, Mr. Morsi’s adviser on foreign affairs, characterized the crisis as a “military coup.”
“As I write these lines, I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page,” Mr. al-Haddad said in a Facebook message. “For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let’s call what is happening by its real name: Military coup.”
“In this day and age, no military coup can succeed in the face of sizeable popular force without considerable bloodshed. Who among you is ready to shoulder that blame?” he added.
The presidential statement was posted as the clock ran out on the army’s 48-hour deadline to Mr. Morsi and the opposition.
The opposition rejected Mr. Morsi’s proposals.
Army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who issued the ultimatum Monday, was in an emergency meeting with his commanders Wednesday. He also met with Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog who has been appointed by the opposition to represent it in negotiations on Egypt’s future.
Meanwhile, millions of Egyptians — pro- and anti-Morsi protesters — waited anxiously for a statement from the army on the path forward.
The military has been supportive of anti-Morsi protesters, with army helicopters dropping Egyptian flags on the demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The military had warned that if a resolution was not found to the crisis, which entered its fourth day Wednesday, it would be forced to intervene and present its own roadmap.
Under the military’s roadmap, leaked Tuesday in an apparent attempt to address concerns that the generals were planning a coup, parliament’s upper house, known as the Shura Council, would be dissolved; the constitution would be suspended; an interim council, composed mainly of civilians from different political groups, would be appointed to lead the country; and early presidential elections would be held.
The plan closely matches the protesters’ demands.
Late Tuesday, Mr. Morsi delivered a defiant address to the nation in which he promised to protect his “constitutional legitimacy” with his life, and refused to listen to the demands of millions of protesters who are calling for his resignation and new elections.
Hours later, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, headed by Gen. al-Sisi, in a Facebook statement titled “The Final Hours” said that it would “sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool.”
Anti-Morsi protesters accuse Mr. Morsi, who was elected in June of 2012, of consolidating his power, undermining state institutions and ignoring Egypt’s worsening economic and security problems.
In his speech on Tuesday night, Mr. Morsi acknowledged that he had made some mistakes in his first year in office, but asked for more time.