Tensions are high in Egypt, where an army deadline for president Mohammad Morsi to quit has expired.
Just two years after a similar display of people power forced out a dictator, protesters are demanding the resignation of the Islamist leader.
They have won the backing of the powerful military, which had given Mr Morsi until 1.00am (AEST) to resign or face the consequences – possibly a military coup.
Road to revolution
Mr Morsi has insisted he is the legitimate leader and said he would rather die than stand down.
In a last-minute statement before the deadline passed, the presidency said a coalition government should be part of a solution to the country’s political standoff, but appeared to offer no new compromises.
A statement reiterated that Mr Morsi held opposition parties responsible for obstructing a political initiative that would also set up a panel to prepare amendments to the constitution passed into law last December.
The army now has control of the state TV building and is reportedly preparing to issue a statement.
Crowds of anti-Morsi demonstrators have again filled Tahrir Square, and Egypt’s interior ministry has warned it will respond firmly to any violence.
At least 16 people were killed at a pro-Morsi rally in Cairo last night, and there are fears a bloodbath will erupt tonight.
Military sources say the army intends to install an interim council composed of civilians from different political groups and experienced technocrats, to run the country until an amended constitution is drafted.
That would be followed by a new presidential election, but parliamentary polls would be delayed until strict conditions for selecting candidates were in force, they said.
They would not say how the military intended to deal with Mr Morsi if he refused to go quietly, but after the president’s address the high command said the army was “ready to die to defend Egypt’s people against terrorists and fools”.
Mr Morsi, who was previously a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader and is Egypt’s first freely elected president, was catapulted to power by the 2011 uprising that ended three decades of authoritarian rule from Hosni Mubarak.
His opponents accuse him of betraying the revolution by concentrating power in Islamist hands and of sending the economy into freefall.
But his supporters say many of the challenges he faces he inherited from a corrupt regime and that he should be allowed to serve out his term, which ends in 2016.
Any attempt to remove him from office, they say, is a coup against democracy.