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Monday
Jul152013

Egypt's Military Chief Defends Morsi's Ouster

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- In his first public comments since President Mohammed Morsi's ouster, Egypt's military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, defended the military's decision to remove the president from office on July 3, saying he was responding to "the will of the people."

“The Armed Forces receive [commands] from the people rather than dictating them," el-Sissi said, according to state media.

Speaking Sunday night in a televised speech to a room full of military generals, el-Sissi said Morsi had violated his popular mandate and lost his legitimacy forcing the military to "make a choice."  

"The Armed Forces had decided, without any reservation, to be at the service of the people and to empower their free will," el-Sissi said, emphasizing that the military control was only temporary.  

“The Egyptian military is preparing to complete its work and is apolitical," he added.

El-Sissi, who will remain as Egypt's defense minister for now, said both the military and then Prime Minister Hesham Kandil had suggested separately to Morsi that he field a referendum on early presidential elections but Morsi reportedly rejected the idea.  El-Sissi said he was out of options, so he had to offer Morsi a 48-hour ultimatum.

Gehad El-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood -- Morsi's party -- quickly responded, tweeting: "#Sisi hs no right 2 decide which protest is worthy enough 2 represent ppl. Ppl choose thru ballot box. #AntiCoup #ProDemocracy"

Following el-Sissi's speech, Egypt's public prosecutor ordered that the assets of 14 top Muslim Brotherhood officials be frozen, state media reported.

The party is now calling for large protests on Monday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio