Some opposition leaders urged protesters to remain until Morsi resigned and was replaced in a transitional period by the military or new elections. Others called for new elections, despite no clear alternative to Morsi. Some denounced the prospect of military intervention, recalling the 18 months when the military ruled after Muabrak stepped down.
We dont want to go through another transitional period under the militarys rule. They have ruined the country, Ahmed Maher, the leader of the 6th of April Movement, one of the leading forces that toppled Mubarak, told McClatchy.
With such divisions and a president unwilling to budge, the nation appeared to have little choice but to wait until the 48 hours had passed and see what the military would do next.
In its statement, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which ruled the country for the 18 months between the resignation of Mubarak and Morsis inauguration, did not say how the two sides were expected to reconcile within the deadline when theyd been unable to do so for the past year.
Would talks among the president, his Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the fractured opposition suffice? Or would it require a referendum or early presidential election?
Nobody knew. Regardless, on the streets of this nation, many interpreted the militarys six-minute statement, read on state television, as some combination of soft military coup and a referendum on Morsis rapidly declining popularity.
At least five of Morsis ministers resigned Monday, as did a provincial governor. The streets erupted in cheers, with protesters who a year ago were chanting Down, down military rule now putting officers on their shoulders and carrying them through the streets.
When Apache helicopters flew overhead, with the Egyptian flag draped beneath, thousands gathered outside the presidential palace roared their approval.
The national security now is at serious risk because of the developments in the country. It is our responsibility to fend off those dangers, a stern voice announced on television, while the screen displayed a picture of the Egyptian flag and minister of defense Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who also is the head of the armed forces. The armed forces had sensed earlier the seriousness of the current situation and the demands of the people. Therefore, it had given all political forces a week to agree and get out of the crises, but the week had passed without any action or initiative, which made people take to the streets with persistence and insistence with their own freedom.
Later, state television reported that Morsi had met Monday evening with el-Sissi and with his prime minister, Hesham Kandil. Morsis government announced it would hold a news conference at 9 p.m., then canceled it.
After the meeting, the military issued a second statement, saying it had no interest in entering politics or staging a coup. Rather it said it sought a quick solution to the political impasse in a way that honors the pulse of the Egyptian people.
Morsis office said he had not reviewed the first statement before it was released, and it was not clear if he had reviewed the second.
The largest opposition group, the liberal National Salvation Front, urged Egyptians to stay on the streets until Morsi stepped down. A new opposition group, Tamarod, or Rebel, gave Morsi until 5 p.m. Tuesday or said it would call for civil disobedience.