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He made a similar offer last week, after the head of the army issued a strong call for politicians to compromise. But the opposition dismissed it as too little to late. They hope Mursi will resign in the face of large numbers on the streets.
“We call on Mohamed Mursi, who has completely lost the legitimacy of his power, to quickly respond to the clear will of the people which is plain today in all corners of revolutionary Egypt,” the June 30 movement, which organised a nationwide petition demanding his resignation, said in a statement.
Some Egyptians seem to believe the army might force the president’s hand, if not to quit then at least to make major concessions to the opposition.
In Cairo, demonstrators stopped to shake hands and take photographs with soldiers guarding key buildings. At least six high-ranking police officers took to the Tahrir Square podium in support of demonstrators, a Reuters witness said.
The armed forces used military helicopters to monitor the protests in Cairo and Alexandria and a military source said chief-of-staff and Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was following the situation from a special operations room.
Mursi and the Brotherhood hope the protests will fizzle like previous outbursts last December and in January. If they do not, some form of compromise, possibly arbitrated by the army, may be on the cards.
Both sides insist they plan no violence but accuse the other - and agents provocateurs from the old regime - of planning it.
The U.S.-equipped army shows little sign of wanting power but warned last week it may have to step in if deadlocked politicians let violence slip out of control.
U.S. President Barack Obama called for dialogue and warned trouble in the most populous Arab nation could unsettle an already turbulent region. Washington has evacuated non-essential personnel and reinforced security at diplomatic missions.
In an interview with London’s Guardian newspaper, Mursi repeated accusations that what he sees as entrenched interests from the Mubarak era are plotting to foil his attempt to govern. But he dismissed the demands that he give up and resign.