Egypt on the brink

Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi refused to step down late on Tuesday 2 July, following a day in which clashes between his supporters and opponents claimed at least 16 lives in the greater Cairo area. 

In a late-night televised speech to the nation, Morsi rejected an ultimatum issued by the military on 1 July, saying he would not be dictated to. The army had given Morsi 48 hours to deal with the rising public unrest across Egypt, and pledged to intervene by late afternoon on Wednesday 3 July if the government failed to end the turmoil on the streets. 

During his 45-minute speech Morsi appealed for calm and said he would protect his "constitutional legitimacy" with his life. 

Morsi assumed office slightly over a year ago after taking 51.7 per cent of the vote in a presidential runoff against Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister to serve under ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. 

Massive protests have been taking place in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 2011 revolution that toppled the administration of Mubarak. Anti-Morsi protesters have been camping out in the square since the demonstrations began on Sunday 30 June. 

Morsi is also coming under increasing pressure from within his own ranks; in the last two days he has seen the resignation of two key spokesmen and six cabinet members. 
However his Islamist supporters have vowed to defend him, and the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) called on its supporters to resist the army. 

Britain and the US have advised their citizens against non-essential travel to Egypt, while Canada has closed its Cairo embassy, citing security concerns.