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Morsi vows to stay in power

Egyptian army says they will push Morsi aside if a power-sharing deal is not reached by 5pm.

Egyptian protesters calling for the ousting of President Mohammad Morsi react as they watch his speech on a screen in a street leading to the presidential palace early in Cairo on 3 July 2013. Picture: AFP

CAIRO - Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi vowed to stay in power and defend constitutional legitimacy with his life on Wednesday as generals worked on plans to push him aside and suspend the constitution.

In a defiant midnight television address responding to military demands that he share power with his opponents or see the army impose its own solution, Morsi warned that any deviation from the democratic order approved in a series of votes last year would lead Egypt down a dangerous path.

He was speaking as vast crowds of protesters rallied in central Cairo and across the nation to demand the Muslim Brotherhood politician's resignation in a third night of mass demonstrations.

His supporters also turned out in force, and three people were killed and 97 injured in clashes between Islamists and security forces at Cairo University.

"The price of preserving legitimacy is my life. Legitimacy is the only guarantee to preserve the country," Morsi said.

In a warning aimed as much at his own militant supporters as at the army, he said: "We do not declare jihad (holy war) against each other. We only wage jihad on our enemies."

Urging Egyptians not to heed the siren calls of what he called remnants of the former authoritarian government, the "deep state" and the corrupt, he said: "Don't be fooled. Don't fall into the trap. Don't let them steal your revolution."

An opposition spokesman called Morsi's defiance "an open call for civil war." Peaceful protests would go on, he said. The revolutionary youth movement that launched the protests called on the Republican Guard to arrest Mursi.

On Monday, army commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave Morsi 48 hours to reach an accommodation with his opponents. Otherwise, he said, the military would step in and implement its own road map for the country's future.

A military spokesman said the armed forces would not comment on the president's statement until Wednesday afternoon.

The deadline is set to expire at 5 pm on Wednesday.