The clock is ticking on the Egyptian military's 48-hour deadline for President Mohammed Morsi to institute changes in the fledgling government or risk what some say will amount to a coup.
The embattled Morsi met Tuesday with Prime Minister Hesham Qandil and Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the minister of defense and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, according to the president's official Facebook page. This follows an announcement from the military on Monday that Morsi and his Islamic Brotherhood party must make the government more inclusive or the military would intervene with its own "road map."
President Barack Obama called Morsi from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where heis on a three-country Africa tour. Obama reportedly encouraged Morsi to respond to the concerns of the hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who have assembled in Tahrir Square, the seat of the 2011 revolution.
The White House says it is committed to democracy in Egypt but does not support any particular leader.
The Egyptian military has made its presence known following a flyby on Monday with helicopters towing Egyptian flags. Protesters in Tahrir Square over the weekend lit up a hovering helicopter with hundreds of laser pointers, which has become one of the more iconic images of the ongoing unrest. At least 16 have died in protests within the past week.
The country remains on edge as the military offers Morsi a "last chance" to implement reforms or step down. Protests have sprung up across the country for months over an economic crisis and what many see as a lack of inclusion in his government. Morsi recently added more members of his Islamist party to the 36-member cabinet.
The standoff has created great tension in the country over what could be perceived as a military coup. The Egyptian military took over outright in 2011 after the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Military action may also prompt reprisals from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Associated Press reports.
The military denied it is staging a coup, according to a statement on its Facebook page.
Morsi is currently reviewing the military statement, which calls for all "patriotic and sincere" factions to be involved in the political process.
A "modern, democratic state" was one of the country's greatest achievements in the wake of Mubarak, he said according to the AP, adding, "With all its force, Egypt will not allow itself to be taken backward."
Check out these unconfirmed tweets from the site of the protest:
— Sherine Tadros (@SherineT) July 2, 2013
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) July 2, 2013