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Egypt's Morsi rebuffs army ultimatum

Eight people were killed and the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters destroyed in an overnight battle.

Egyptian demonstrators gather outside the presidential palace in Cairo during a protest calling for the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 1, 2013. Egypt's armed forces warned that it will intervene if the people's demands are not met within 48 hours, after millions took to the streets to demand the president's resignation. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

CAIRO - President Mohamed Morsi rebuffed an army ultimatum to force a resolution to Egypt's political crisis, saying on Tuesday that he had not been consulted and would pursue his own plans for national reconciliation.

Morsi has potentially confused Monday's 48-hour deadline set by the head of the armed forces for him to agree on a common platform with liberal rivals.

Members of his Muslim Brotherhood have used the word "coup" to describe the military manoeuvre, which carries the threat of the generals imposing their own road map for the nation.

"The president of the republic was not consulted about the statement issued by the armed forces," said a statement issued by the presidency nearly nine hours after General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delighted Morsi's opponents by effectively ordering the President to heed the demands of demonstrators.

"The presidency sees that some of the statements in it carry meanings that could cause confusion in the complex national environment."

Official video was released showing Morsi meeting the uniformed Sisi. Their body language seemed awkward, although it was unclear when it was shot.

"The presidency confirms that it is going forward on its previously plotted path to promote comprehensive national reconciliation ... regardless of any statements that deepen divisions between citizens," the statement continued.

Describing civilian rule as a great gain from the revolution of 2011, Morsi, said he would not let the clock be turned back.

But in referring to his plans for reconciliation as those he had spelt out before, he was speaking of offers that had already been rejected by the opposition, leaving it improbable that such compromises would be realised before Sisi's deadline.

Morsi also spoke to U.S. President Barack Obama by phone on Monday, the presidency said in a separate statement.

The presidency said Egypt was moving forward with a peaceful democratic transition based on the law and constitution.

A sense of disintegration in the administration since the protests on Sunday has been heightened by the resignations tendered by several ministers who are not members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Attacks on Brotherhood offices have added to feelings among Islamists that they are under siege.

Some Brotherhood leaders, who swept a series of votes last year, said they would look to put their own supporters on the streets.

After the destruction of the Brotherhood's headquarters in a battle overnight on Monday in which eight people were killed, the possibility of wider violence seems real.

World powers are looking on anxiously, including the United States, which has long funded the Egyptian army as a key component in the security of Washington's ally Israel.

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to his Egyptian counterpart, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday, although it was unclear what was said.

President Barack Obama has urged Morsi and his rivals to compromise. But Washington has also defended the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood's election.

It is unclear how far the Egyptian military has informed, or coordinated with its US sponsors.