CAIRO - Tension is gripping Egypt on Wednesday, July 3 ahead of the expiry of an army ultimatum for political rivals to solve disputes and President Mohamed Morsi' rejection of the warning.
"The price of preserving legitimacy is my life," President Morsi said in an address to the nation late Tuesday.
"Legitimacy is the only guarantee to preserve the country."The army on Monday gave a 48-hour ultimatum for the presidency and the opposition to find a solution to the deepening political crisis in Egypt.
The military threatened that it would impose a roadmap for Egypt's future if the two sides failed to reach a compromise.
The army deadline came a day after hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets to demand Morsi's resignation and holding snap presidential election.
In response, thousands of Morsi's supporters assembled across the country to defend his legitimacy.
More than 30 people have been killed in deadly clashes between Morsi's opponents and supporters in several Egyptian cities since Sunday.
The Islamist president accused allies of deposed president Hosni Mubarak of being behind the unrest.
"Don't be fooled. Don't fall into the trap. Don't let them steal your revolution, he said.
Morsi also sent a warning to supporters threatening a militant campaign to defend his legitimacy.
"We do not declare jihad (holy war) against each other. We only wage jihad on our enemies."
In response, the military council has pledged to die to defend Egypt's people.
"We swear to God that we will sacrifice even our blood for Egypt and its people, to defend them against any terrorist, radical or fool, read a post on the official Facebook page of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
A military source said the statement made clear that the armed forces would not abandon the people's demands.
The confrontation is risking to push the most populous Arab nation closer to the brink of chaos amid a deepening economic crisis two years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Troops intervened to break up clashes in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. They were also out on the streets of Suez and Port Said, at either end of the Suez Canal. The waterway is vital to world trade and to Egypt's struggling economy.
Egypt's Coptic Pope, spiritual leader of the country's 10 percent Christian minority, expressed open support for the anti-Morsi "Tamarud - Rebel!" movement in a tweet, voicing support for the national trio of people, army and youth.
The leading Muslim religious authority, Al-Azhar, called for the will of the people to prevail peacefully.
Morsi met defense minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi for a second day, his office said, along with Prime Minister Hisham Kandil but there was no sign of any meeting of minds.Though Morsi has held out repeated offers of dialogue, liberal opponents accuse him and the Brotherhood of bad faith and have ruled out starting talks with him before the deadline.