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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.

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