Egyptian Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Sunday that upon nationwide 30 June protests calling for the removal of Mohamed Morsi as president he advised the latter to hold a referendum on whether he should stay or leave, hinting that Morsi's rejection of this advice led to the military removing him from power 3 July and proposing a political roadmap for a new transitional period.
"Before the army had to propose its roadmap it had previously expressed that the presidency hold a referendum [on Morsi's continuation in office]," El-Sisi said in a meeting with top army officers Sunday afternoon.
"We had sent a message to former president Morsi through two messengers, his own prime minister (Hisham Qandil) and a respectable legal figure, recommending that he calls for a national referendum. Our request met with absolute rejection."
El-Sisi also went on to reiterate that the military does not wish to interfere in politics and that its roadmap was designed to pave the way for Egyptians "exercising free choice."
"The armed forces remained committed to what it considered the legitimacy of the ballot box until this presumed legitimacy moved against its own purpose," El-Sisi said. "The Egyptian people were concerned that the tools of the state could be used against them. The armed forces had to make a choice, seeing the danger of deepened polarisation."
The army's roadmap, backed by opposition groups, proposed a transitional period of "at least 6 months" with a new Cabinet and the head of the High Constitutional Court as interim president. During the transitional period the 2012 constitution will be amended followed by parliamentary and presidential elections.
Tens of thousands of supporters of Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, remain at a sit-in at Cairo's Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square, rejecting what they describe as a clear coup d'etat against Morsi who was elected in June 2012 becoming Egypt's first post-Mubarak president. Sit-in demonstrators demand his reinstatement.