CAIRO - Egypt's ruling military council toughened its tone against Tahrir protests on Friday, June 22, dismissing complaints from protesters that it was entrenching its rule and blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for announcing early results of Presidential elections.
"The issuance of the supplementary constitutional decree was necessitated by the needs of administering the affairs of the state during this critical period in the history of our nation," the off-screen announcer from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said in a statement cited by Reuters.
The SCAF, which took over when veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising in February last year, also delivered veiled criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood, charging that efforts were afoot to pre-empt the outcome of a hard-fought presidential election.
But it insisted that it remained neutral in the deeply polarizing election run-off between the Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Mursi and Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.
"Protecting the status of state institutions is a national responsibility for all. Any attack on them threatens the stability and national security of Egypt," said a SCAF statement read in the bureaucratic language favored by the generals.
"Any attempts to harm public or private interests will be confronted with utmost firmness and strength by the police and armed forces within the law."
"Anticipating the announcement of the presidential election results before they are announced officially is unjustifiable, and is one of the main causes of division and confusion prevailing the political arena," the statement added.
SCAF said people were free to protest - but only if they did not disrupt daily life.
It also called the premature announcement of results in last weekend's presidential election "unjustifiable" and a prime cause of the tension.
The statement added the army had no power to repeal the dissolution of parliament, saying that was down to judges who ruled that some of January's election rules were unconstitutional.
"The verdicts issued by the judiciary are executed in the name of the people and refraining from implementing these verdicts is a crime punishable by law," it said, a warning to Islamists who are challenging the dissolution.
In a last-minute decree issued last Sunday, the next president's powers have been curbed following an order by the ruling military council after it ordered the dissolution of the Islamist-led parliament.
The Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egypt's presidency, Mohamed Morsy, said on Friday Egyptian revolutionary powers would go on protesting at moves by the ruling military to curb the powers of the president and urged that the election results be announced without delay.
The meeting powers agreed to continue to reject SCAF's decree.
"The military council is calling for respect for the legitimacy of the state and its laws, but we are asking for there first to be respect for the legitimacy of the parliamentary election and the will of the people," Mohamed Beltagy, a senior member of the Brotherhood, told Reuters.
"The Brotherhood restates its rejection of the constitutional declaration, which is itself unconstitutional," Beltagy added.
"The military council does not have any legal rights to issue such a decree."
Hassan Nafaa, a political analyst, also criticized the military's latest statement.
"The military council's statement is intended to scare the people and quell the revolutionary spirit of the nation through the firm authoritarian tone in which the statement was delivered, he said.
"But this will not work because all politically aware civilians refuse the military's stewardship over the state."
At Tahrir square, hundreds of thousands of protesters were determined to stay until they achieve their demands of restoring the parliament and cancelling the supplementary constitutional decree.
"This is a classic counter revolution that will only be countered by the might of protesters," said Safwat Ismail, 43, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who came from the Nile Delta.
"I am staying in the square until the military steps down."
Mahmoud Mohammed, a bearded, 31-year-old marine engineer from Alexandria among a group camping on the square insisted they were not looking for a battle, but wanted to see democracy installed.
"The people elected a parliament and they put it in the rubbish bin. We need the army to hand over," he said, adding:
"No one came here for a fight. We need democracy."