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Egypt president defends 1st year in speech

Thursday - 6/27/2013, 3:40am  ET

Protesters embrace an Egyptian police officer during a protest against the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in front of the Ministry of Defense, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, June 26, 2013. In abstract terms, protests planned for Sunday, June 30, 2013 aiming to force out Egypt’s Islamist president violate a basic principle of democracy: If an election has been held, all must respect the results, otherwise it’s political chaos. Supporters of President Mohammed Morsi have been angrily making that argument for days. Those behind the protests insist he lost the legitimacy of that election victory by power grabs and missteps. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

HAMZA HENDAWI
Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Islamist president told his opponents to use elections not protests to try to change the government and said the military should focus on its role as the nation's defenders in a nationally televised address on Wednesday, days before the opposition plans massive street rallies aimed at removing him from office.

Mohammed Morsi's words to the military came amid opposition hopes that the powerful generals will protect their protests Sunday in an implicit show of support. Morsi's supporters accuse the opposition of fomenting a coup. Speaking at a giant conference hall packed with people, Morsi reminded his audience that "all agree" that the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces.

"There are some who don't want the armed forces and the presidency to have a healthy relationship," Morsi said. "All state institutions work in harmony and with discipline under the leadership of the head of state."

The audience, packed with Cabinet members, officials from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters, cheered his remarks on the military, which at times sounded like a rebuke to Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Sitting on the front row, el-Sissi, sat silently. Days earlier he issued a sharp demand that both sides in the crisis reconcile and a warning that the military will not sit by if the nation is endangered by the political divisions.

Earlier on Wednesday, military officials said they were bringing reinforcements closer to Egypt's main cities, apparently aimed at keeping security if violence erupts on Sunday.

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