CAIRO (AFP) - Islamist President Mohamed Mursi told Egyptians on Tuesday that he had been freely elected little more than a year ago and that he intended to continue to carry out his duties despite mass protests demanding his resignation.
"The people chose me in free and fair elections," Mr Mursi said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would "continue to shoulder his responsiblities" as Egypt struggles with the legacy of decades of authoritarian rule.
The President said that respect for the constitutional order was the "only guarantee against further bloodshed", in a veiled attack against an ultimatum issued by the army for him to strike a deal with his opponents or have one imposed.
Mr Mursi said he stood ready to "give my life" to defend constitutional legitimacy, echoing comments by a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who urged supporters to be ready to sacrifice their lives to prevent a coup.
The President renewed his appeal to the opposition to join a dialogue, an appeal it has already repeatedly rejected as a sham.