Egypt Crisis Deepens as Mursi Refuses to Step Down

July 3, 2013

Egypt’s military said it was ready to sacrifice itself in the fight against “fools,” while President Mohamed Mursi vowed to defend his legitimacy with his life as time ran out on the army’s ultimatum to end the political crisis.

The showdown is pitting the country’s first democratically elected president against detractors who claim he’s sold out the goals of the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak to advance Islamist interests. Clashes between his supporters and critics left at least 18 dead and 619 wounded over the past 24 hours, said Ahmed El-Ansari, deputy head of the national ambulance service.

“If the price of safeguarding legitimacy is my own blood, I am ready to sacrifice it,” Mursi said in a late night televised speech. “There is no alternative to constitutional legitimacy.”

The army said July 1 it would impose its own plan if Mursi didn’t end Egypt’s political crisis and meet the people’s demands within 48 hours. The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper summed up the stakes in a headline reading: “Today: Removal or Resignation.”

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