Facing an angry tide of political unrest, Egypt’s residency on Tuesday rejected an army ultimatum threatening to intervene if Islamist President Mohammed Mursi did not meet the demands of the people.
Instead, the presidency said it had its own plan for national reconciliation.
The army statement, read out in a televised address on Tuesday, gave Mursi 48 hours to comply with its call.
“If the demands of the people are not met in this period… (the armed forces) will announce a future roadmap and measures to oversee its implementation,” it said in the statement welcomed by cheers and celebrations from Mursi’s opponents, still camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
In response, the presidency army declaration had not been cleared by the presidency and could cause confusion, it said, AFP news agency reported.
The presidency also denounced any declaration that would “deepen division” and “threaten the social peace”.
Mursi was consulting “with all national forces to secure the path of democratic change and the protection of the popular will”, it added.
“The civil democratic Egyptian state is one of the most important achievements of the January 25 revolution,” said the presidency, referring to the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak.
“Egypt will absolutely not permit any step backward whatever the circumstances,” it added.
Tamarod, the grassroots campaign behind Sunday’s massive protests against Mursi, also hailed the statement by the armed forces which it said had “sided with the people”.
It “will mean early presidential elections”, Tamarod’s spokesman Mahmud Badr told reporters, according to AFP.
But Mursi’s rejection of the army ultimatum has raised the stakes in the country’s political crisis, which has resulted in 16 people being killed in protests on Sunday, including eight in clashes between supporters and opponents of the president outside the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s foreign minister resigns
Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr tendered his resignation early on Tuesday, the state news agency MENA reported.
The report did not elaborate or say where it got the information, according to Reuters. At least five other ministers have resigned since Sunday’s mass protests.
Earlier, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil rejected the resignation request of five ministers, a senior government official told AFP.
Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Khaled Abdel-Aal, Communication and Information Technology Minister Atef Helmi, Minister of State for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Hatem Bagato, and Water Minister Abdel Qawy Khalifa handed their resignation letters at the same time to Qandil, the official said.