Morsi Addresses Nation, Says He Won't Step Down

Morsi vows to protect his "constitutional legitimacy" with his life in a live speech.

Elad Benari,

Mohammed Morsi
Mohammed Morsi
AFP photo

Moments after he demanded that the army withdraw a 48-hour ultimatum for him to resolve the conflict with his political opponents, Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi went on live television to say that he will not step down as demanded by millions of protesters.

Morsi vowed to protect his "constitutional legitimacy" with his life, according to the Al Jazeera network.

Addressing the nation in a speech carried live on state television, Morsi accused loyalists of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak of riding the current wave of protests to topple his regime.

"There is no substitute for legitimacy," said Morsi, who had received an ultimatum from the military to work out his differences with the opposition by Wednesday or it will intervene to oversee the implementation of its own political road map.

He said he had tried such dialogue before and had been unsuccessful. He insisted he would continue fulfilling the duties to which he had been democratically elected.

"The constitution which we all uphold and respect says that the government that will be chosen by the parliament will have more authorities than the president," said Morsi, according to Al-Ahram, and added, "To save the nation we need to sacrifice, but not against each other....when we announce jihad that must be against foreign enemies and not against each other. We sacrifice for our country and I am the first to sacrifice. If the cost for legitimacy is my blood I will give it easily."

He said, "There are many challenges but the biggest is not to fall in the trap and take the country in the wrong direction, and make our enemies happy."

"My iron will is with my people and is unshaken," Morsi concluded the speech.

Egyptian media reported earlier that seven people were killed in clashes between Morsi opponents and supporters on Tuesday. Violence during the protests over the weekend had already left 16 people dead and hundreds injured.