Speaking in a televised statement on Monday, the Egyptian military’s commander-in-chief, General Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi said that the weekend’s protests had been an “unprecedented” expression of popular opinion, and said “If the demands of the people are not realised within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon [the military] . . . to announce a road map for the future.”
The statement said that the military’s road map would include “all factions and national trends, including the youth.”
However, the statement also said that the military would not act as a political party or take a direct hand in the running of the government.
The move follows months of growing economic problems and increasing polarization between supporters and opponents of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, culminating on Sunday in huge protests across Egypt on Sunday, which saw an estimated half a million people crowd into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focal point of the unrest that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Protesters have been demanding that Mohamed Mursi, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party, step down from power and call early elections, only one year into his four year term.
Mursi has so far resisted the calls, saying that demands for him to step down were unconstitutional, and accusing remnants of the Mubarak government were behind some of the protests in an interview with London’s Guardian newspaper, published on Sunday.
Last Sunday, General Sissi gave Egypt’s politicians a week to bridge their differences, saying: “the armed forces had avoided being drawn into the political arena, but that its national, historic and moral responsibility to the people makes it imperative that it intervenes to stop Egypt slipping into a dark tunnel of conflict, internal fighting, exchanging accusations of treason and criminality, sectarian sedition, and the collapse of institutions.”