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Military coup underway in Egypt: top Morsi aide

July 04, 2013 00:31 IST

A top aide of embattled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday said a military coup was underway in the country, with a travel ban being slapped on the Islamist leader after he refused to quit following the end of a 48-hour army deadline for him to meet people's demands.

"For the sake of Egypt and for historical accuracy, let's call what is happening by its real name: Military coup," Essam al-Haddad, 61-year-old Morsi's national security adviser, said in a statement posted on Facebook, warning of "considerable bloodshed".

"As I write these lines I am fully aware that these may be the last lines I get to post on this page," Haddad said.

Airport officials said a travel ban has been issued against Morsi. They said that ban on Morsi has to do with his escape from prison with more than 30 other Muslim Brotherhood members during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

Also banned from travel was Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, his deputy Khairat el-Shater.

Egypt edged closer to a return to rule by the army generals as both sides refused to back down with the 48-hour military deadline for Morsi to resolve the ongoing political crisis coming to an end.

The Egyptian military moved into key sites in Cairo hours after its ultimatum passed for Morsi to resolve the political crisis.

Egypt remained tense as crowds poured into the streets to demand Morsi's resignation.

"The presidency envisions the formation of a consensus coalition government to oversee the next parliamentary election," the President's office said in a statement earlier posted on Facebook.

Morsi reaffirmed his call for a national dialogue and the formation of a panel to amend the country's controversial Islamist-drafted constitution. He insisted on continuing as the President.

There was a "clear roadmap which is based on constitutional legitimacy... and includes the formation of a temporary coalition government based on national participation to oversee the coming phase," Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected President, said.

"There would be an agreement from all political trends over the (choice of) prime minister," his office said.

Morsi reiterated that he was a "president for all Egyptians".

Meanwhile, the health ministry said 23 people were killed and 200 others injured in violence between pro-and anti Morsi supporters at CairoUniversity in the Giza district in the capital since last night, taking the toll to 39 since Sunday.

"Come here O Sisi, Morsi isn't my president," the protesters chanted in the square, referring to army chief and defence minister, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Morsi, who looked increasingly isolated as many of his cabinet colleagues abandoned him, earlier said he had been elected in a free and fair poll to lead the nation and intended to stick to his task.

According to analysts, Morsi's statement showed that he and his party Muslim Brotherhood are ready to face the risk of challenging the powerful army.

The interior ministry sided with the army and vowed not to favour any one political movement over another.

Asserting that police "belong to the people", the ministry issued a statement to fully support the army's stand over protecting "national security and the state's interests".

"The police apparatus renews its vow to... protect citizens and vital state institutions and to preserve the security of the protesters...The police belong to the people. They stand with equal distance from all political factions, and do not side with one faction at the expense of the other," the statement said.

Millions of people took to the streets this week under the banner of Tamarod (Arabic word for Rebellion) movement which is driving the campaign with a petition of signatures seeking Morsi's ouster and a snap election.

After Morsi's speech, the Tamarod movement accused him of "threatening his own people".

In a counter-measure, hundreds of Islamists took to streets across country yesterday in support of Morsi, who just completed an year in office.

In Port Said in Suez Canal region, hundreds protested against army's Monday statement that gave President Morsi the 48-hour deadline to resolve the current impasse, describing it as a "coup against legitimacy."

Hours after Morsi rejected the military ultimatum, the army assured the people that it would shed its blood to defend Egypt against "any terrorist, radical or fool".

"We swear to God that we will sacrifice our blood for Egypt and its people against all terrorists, extremists and ignorant" groups, it said.

In a provocative comment, a high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood official had said the Egyptian people should stand ready to give their lives away in order to stop a coup from taking place.

"Seeking martyrdom to prevent this coup is what we can offer to the previous martyrs of the revolution," Mohamed al-Beltagui said in a statement.

His statement refers to the more than 800 people who were killed in the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Image: Army soldiers stand guard in front of protesters who are against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, near the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo

Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

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