Egypt Is Hours Away from an Army Coup

Sisi's coming. There are fewer than two hours left until the Egyptian military's 2:30 GMT deadline for government takeover is reached, and President Mohamed Morsi says he is willing to pay any price for "preserving legitimacy"—even his life.

Meanwhile, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is meeting with opposition figurehead Mohamed Elbaradei, as well as Muslim and Coptic leaders and representatives from the protest movement and anti-Muslim Brotherhood political parties.

Morsi, Egypt's first-ever democratically elected leader, has so far refused to step down in the face of the military's threat to take over, made two days ago after overwhelming anti-government protests in Cairo and across Egypt. In television addresses, the bearded former engineer has appealed to the government's democratic legitimacy, and pledged to let a new parliament and a national unity government amend the constitution.

Over the last two days, supporters and Muslim Brother party members gathered counter-protests, and vowed to "stand in between the tanks and the president." But many high-level members of Morsi's government have resigned, and the Interior Ministry, which controls the police force, has pledged its support to the army. At least 16 Muslim Brotherhood protestors have been killed already, when gunmen—allegedly police—opened fire at Cairo University, and many are girding for protracted fighting, if not a civil war.

If and when the army takes over, it will likely dissolve the parliament and install a new civilian government:

The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said Mursi was expected to either step down or be removed from office and that the army would set up a three-member presidential council to be chaired by the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

A military source said he expected the army to first call political, social and economic figures and youth activists for talks on its draft roadmap for the country's future.