CAIRO (CNN) — Appearing to throw its enormous weight behind protesters demanding the ouster of President Mohamed Morsy, the Egyptian military gave a virtual ultimatum to Morsy on Monday that he has 48 hours to “meet the demands of the people” or it will step in.
Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, listening in on radios and cell phones, cheered as the statement was read. The clearly energized crowd, growing larger by the hour, cheered military helicopters passing overhead, some of them trailing Egyptian flags.
The military said it wants no direct role in national politics. Instead, the generals appeared to be pressuring Egypt’s first democratically elected president to restructure his government by reducing the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in his cabinet and to call early presidential and parliamentary elections, a source close to highly placed members of Egypt’s leadership told CNN.
Shortly after the announcement, Morsy met with Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and Egypt’s minister of defense and head of the country’s military, Gen. Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, according to the president’s Facebook page. It was not immediately known what they discussed.
The military’s announcement comes the same day the protest movement announced on Facebook that if Morsy doesn’t leave office by Tuesday, the Tamarod (the “rebel” campaign”) group will begin a civil disobedience movement, call for nationwide protests and march on the presidential palace, where Morsy’s administration is running affairs.
Demonstrators say they have collected 17 million signatures — roughly 4 million more than the number of votes that won Morsy the presidency — calling for Morsy to go.
The opposition is made up of various groups and loose coalitions, and not all anti-Morsy protesters agree with the road map the Tamarod campaign is advocating. Some are loyal to the ousted Mubarak government, while others want the army to intervene.