CAIRO — Egypt's embattled president on Wednesday acknowledged making mistakes during his first year in office.
In a televised speech ahead of a planned mass weekend demonstration by his opponents demanding his resignation, President Mohammed Morsi pledged to introduce "radical and quick" reforms in state institutions. He insisted he has been "right" about some issues.
Opponents want him to resign and call an early election, charging that he and his Muslim Brotherhood are monopolizing power and failing to solve Egypt's pressing problems.
He was speaking at a conference hall filled by Cabinet ministers and senior officials of his Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party along with several hundred supporters.
His speech was interrupted repeatedly by the supporters with applause or chants. The army chief was among those in attendance, and he politely clapped.
Earlier Wednesday the military said it was bringing reinforcements closer to Egypt's main cities. The troop movement signaled the seriousness of the situation, as huge demonstrations by Morsi's opponents and supporters loom and violence is possible.
On Sunday the military chief warned that the army would not stand by and watch Egypt deteriorate into chaos. The two sides have interpreted that statement as support for their opposing positions. The Brotherhood believes the military would intervene to preserve its government, while opponents are convinced that soldiers would protect them from attacks by Islamic militants.
Angry is growing over Egypt's economic malaise, typified by a severe fuel shortage that has forced many in Cairo to wait in line for hours at gas stations. Electric power cuts are frequent, prices are rising and unemployment is increasing, further adding to tensions.
More than an hour into his speech, Morsi apologized to his people for the fuel shortage. "I am saddened by the lines, and I wish I could join in and wait in line, too," he said.