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Morsi defiant in Egyptian showdown

The army is intensifying its presence in many cities ahead of its Wednesday evening deadline.

Egypt's President Mohammad Morsi. Picture: AFP

CAIRO - There are growing fears of a military coup in Egypt as tens of thousands of pro and anti-government protesters continue to gather across the country.

The army is intensifying its presence in many cities ahead of its deadline for all political factions to meet on Wednesday evening.

While army generals work on plans to push Egypt's President Mohammad Morsi aside and suspend the constitution, Morsi insists he's the country's legitimate leader and has refused to step down.

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.

No one expects the army's ultimatum to be upheld so many are questioning what the army will do when the ultimatum expires.

Most Egyptians are bracing for conflict between the military and the president and are waiting for the army to make a statement.

All foreign nationals have been warned against travelling to Egypt and those who are there have been told they should consider whether they have a pressing need to remain.

Many fear Tuesday night's clashes between Morsi's supporters and his opponents is only a taste of what's to come.

Three people were killed and 97 injured in clashes between Islamists and security forces at Cairo University.

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 5pm on Wednesday.