Supporters of Egypt’s deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi have been warned to leave rapidly the two Cairo squares they have been occupying.
The government has repeated a warning to break up the sit-ins, saying the military has not moved in before now because of Ramadan, which ends on Wednesday night.
Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s call for peaceful protests, the military-backed authorities accuse it of breaking laws and endangering public safety. Egypt’s interim prime minister says the protesters have been inciting violence, using weapons, blocking roads and detaining people.
Earlier the Egyptian presidency declared that international diplomatic efforts to end the political crisis had failed, and that it held the Muslim Brotherhood responsible.
Egypt remains polarised over Mursi’s overthrow and subsequent events.
“The negotiations were bound to fail, because the leadership among Mursi’s supporters insist on their viewpoint only. The presidency’s move is correct. But the sit-in is not the right way to proceed,” said one middle-aged man in Cairo.
Others blame the military-backed government for the failed talks: “I don’t recognize this government. How can you carry out a military coup and then want to negotiate with me?” said a younger man.
Two visiting US senators on a mediation mission angered the government earlier, by describing the overthrow of former President Mursi as a “coup”.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham also called for dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood and the release of political prisoners. They gave pessimistic accounts of the situation, with one warning Egypt could be “days from bloodshed”.
The country’s first freely-elected president is being held at an undisclosed location and thousands of his supporters remain camped out in Cairo.
Despite the latest events, the EU has vowed to continue its diplomatic efforts.