The general at the head of Egypt’s armed forces has given the Egyptian government a 48-hour deadline to answer demands made by the people.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the country’s state television that if President Mursi’s government failed to listen, the military would offer its own “road map for the future”.
The founder of the Egyptian protest movement that brought millions out to demand President Mohamed Mursi resign said he welcomed the army ultimatum and urged people to rally again until Mursi quit.
Mahmoud Badr, of the “Tamarud – Rebel!” coalition told a televised news conference: “The statement of the armed forces has a single idea – supporting the will of the Egyptian people at this moment, which means early presidential elections.”
However a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said “everyone” rejected the armed forces deadline statement.
Yasser Hamza, a member of the FJP’s legal committee, told Al Jazeera television: “Solutions will be in the framework of the constitution. The age of military coups is over.”
Mass protests across the country on Sunday night saw around 14 million Egyptians take to the streets calling for Mursi’s resignation. General Fattah al-Sisi said this showed an “unprecedented” expression of the popular will.
Five government ministers have stepped down following the protests, with more resignations expected.
Protesters had previously given their own deadline, saying they would continue demonstrations and civil disobedience unless Mursi stepped down by 5pm on Tuesday 2 July.
One anti-government demonstrator in Cairo’s Tahir Square, Mona Wafa, said that life had got worse under Mursi’s rule: “We staged a revolution against a situation that was so much better than the one we are in now. But now the situation is much worse, so it’s only natural that the number of people complaining about the situation before, have now doubled.”
Another activist, Jamal Helal agreed, saying: “Don’t you (Morsi) see that the country is sinking? You should understand that. You also should understand that people don’t want you any more. Be fair.”
Meanwhile, pro-Mursi supporters staged their own rally in Tahir Square.
One supporter of the president, Hatem Abu el Hassan, said: “The vast numbers of protesters last night is natural, because as you know the number of people who were part of the former National Democratic party was three million during the time of Hosni Mubarak. So it’s only natural that there was a large number of people protesting yesterday, but the most important thing is that it should be peaceful.”
The anti-government demonstrations on Sunday night were the largest seen in Egypt since the uprising which ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Across the country, 18 people were killed in the latest protests. Women’s activists reported that at least 43 women had been sexually assaulted by gangs in Tahir Square.
Only a few demonstrators remained in Tahir Square on Monday. Clashes continued outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters on the outskirts of Cairo.