Egypt's president admits mistakes

By Hamza Hendawi

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, June 26 2013 3:10 p.m. MDT

Egyptian protesters chant against the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during a protest 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.

Hassan Ammar, Associated Press

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.

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