CAIRO (AP) — Three government spokesmen are the latest to quit the regime of Egypt's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.
A series of high-level defections has left him increasingly isolated, as a deadline set by the country's military approaches. The military has given him until tomorrow to address the demands of the protesters who've been filling the streets of Cairo and other large cities in huge numbers, pushing for his departure. Otherwise, military officials say, they'll seek their own way to end the political chaos.
There are concerns on both sides that Egypt's military could take over outright, as it did after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak two years ago. And there's a risk of a backlash from Morsi's Islamist backers, including some who once belonged to armed militant groups.
At least 16 people have been killed since Sunday in clashes between Morsi's opponents and his many supporters. The supporters have equated the demonstrations and the military arm-twisting to a coup against a democratically-elected president.
The police, which are under the control of the Interior Ministry, have stood on the sidelines of the protests. They're refusing even to protect the offices of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood that have been attacked and ransacked.
171-r-06-(Sound of women clapping and chanting in Arabic, in Tahrir (tah-REER') Square)--Sound of women protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square clapping and chanting, calling on Egypt's President Morsi to step down. ((Morsi is pronounced MOHR'-see)) (2 Jul 2013)
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170-r-10-(Sound of thousands of protesters, in Tahrir (tah-REER') Square)--Sound of thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square gearing up for a third day of anti-Morsi rallies. (2 Jul 2013)
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172-r-07-(Sound of President Morsi's (MOHR'-see) supporters dancing and chanting "Morsi, Morsi", in front of Rabea Al-Adaweya mosque in Cairo)--Sound of President Morsi's supporters dancing and chanting as they hold a demonstration in front of a mosque in Cairo. (2 Jul 2013)
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GRAPHICSBANK: A flying military helicopter, Cairo, Egypt, graphic element ongray (2 Jul 2013)
APPHOTO MB106: Supporters hold posters of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi during a rally near Cairo University Square in Giza, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Egypt was on edge Tuesday following a "last-chance" ultimatum the military issued to Mohammed Morsi, giving the president and the opposition 48 hours to resolve the crisis in the country or have the army step in with its own plan. Arabic reads,"no alternative to legitimacy." A Syrian revolutionary flag flies in the background. (AP Photo/ Manu Brabo) (2 Jul 2013)
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APPHOTO AMR119: An military helicopter flies over an opponent if Egyptian Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as he waves a national flag, in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. With a military deadline for intervention ticking down, protesters seeking the ouster of Egypt's Islamist president sought Tuesday to push the embattled leader further toward the edge with another massive display of people power.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil) (2 Jul 2013)
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