Egypt teetered on the brink of overthrow late Tuesday after a defiant Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi rejected an ultimatum issued by the military and seven people were reported killed in clashes between his supporters and opponents.
Defense officials have pledged to intervene if the government does not address public demands and end the political turmoil engulfing Cairo.
In a speech to the nation broadcast live late Tuesday, Morsi said he would not step down and would protect his "constitutional legitimacy" with his life.
The deadly clashes came just one day before the deadline set by the military for Morsi and his opponents to work out their differences.
Security and hospital officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the seven were killed in three separate incidents but gave no further details.
Morsi said Tuesday he would pursue his own plans for reconciliation between his government and opposition leaders, according to Reuters.
The Egyptian leader has repeatedly vowed not to quit, saying that street action must not be allowed to remove an elected president. At the same time, Morsi has offered no concessions, although his opponents appear in no mood to accept anything short of his removal.
His Islamist supporters, some hardliners who belong to formerly armed militant groups, have vowed to defend him.
Reuters reported that a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said "everyone" rejected the military declaration.
"Solutions will be in the framework of the constitution," Yasser Hamza, a member of the FJP's legal committee, told Al Jazeera. "The age of military coups is over."
The comments came as a foreign ministry official said two spokesmen for Morsi -- Omar Amer and Ihab Fahmy -- have stepped down after nearly five months representing him. On Monday, six of his cabinet members quit.
Canada has closed its embassy in Cairo, citing security concerns.
In a highly symbolic move, crowds camped out in Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. They also massed Tuesday outside the Qasr el-Qobba presidential palace where Morsi has been working in recent days, in addition to filling wide avenues outside another palace, and in main squares in other cities.