Mursi supporters hold up his posters during a rally.
Better to 'die standing like tree' says Mursi
Cairo, July 3, 2013
A spokesman for Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi said he believed it would be better to die "standing like a tree", defending the electoral legitimacy of his office, than to go down in history as having destroyed Egyptians' hopes for democracy.
Saying that Mursi was not seeking to cling to office for its own sake, spokesman Ayman Ali told Reuters that, in his overnight speech to the nation, the president had defied calls to resign in order to "defend the democratic system".
"It is better for a president, who would otherwise be returning Egypt to the days of dictatorship, from which God and the will of the people has saved us, to die standing like a tree," Ali said, "Rather than be condemned by history and future generations for throwing away the hopes of Egyptians for establishing a democratic life."
The comments came event as the political wing of Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood refused an invitation to meet the armed forces commander on Wednesday, hours before an army deadline for Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to yield to mass protests or quit, military and party sources said.
"We do not go to invitations (meetings) with anyone. We have a president and that is it," said Waleed Al-Haddad, a senior leader of the Freedom and Justice Party told Reuters.
Egyptian liberal opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei met army chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, along with the heads of state Islamic institute, Al-Azhar, and the Egyptian Coptic Church. Political sources said two members of the "Tamarud - Rebel!" youth group that is leading the anti-Mursi protests also attended, as did members of the hardline Muslim fundamentalist Nour Party.
Al-Azhar's Grand Sheikh, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, endorsed the army's position, calling on political leaders to heed anti-government protesters. Pope Tawadros, spiritual leader of some 10 percent of Egypt's 84 million people, tweeted his blessing for the anti-Mursi revolt on Tuesday.
ElBaradei was chosen to represent the opposition National Salvation Front coalition and youth groups leading anti-Mursi street protests to negotiate with the army on their behalf.
"In the meeting, ElBaradei will urge the armed forces to intervene to stop the bloodshed," one opposition source said. A military source denied the meeting was taking place.
More than 20 people have died and hundreds have been injured in clashes between Mursi's supporters and opponents since the eruption of mass protests on June 30.
Meanwhile, Egyptian troops with armoured vehicles have secured the central Cairo studios of state television on Wednesday, security sources said.
The sources said staff not involved in working on live broadcasts had left the building. - Reuters