(Reuters) – Egypt’s army commander and Islamist President Mohamed Mursi each pledged to die for his cause as a deadline neared on Wednesday that will trigger a military takeover backed by protesters.

Military chiefs, vowing to restore order in a country racked by demonstrations over Mursi’s Islamist policies, issued a call to battle in a statement headlined “The Final Hours”. They said they were willing to shed blood against “terrorists and fools” after Mursi refused to give up his elected office.

Less than three hours before an ultimatum was due to expire for Mursi to agree to share power or make way for an army-imposed solution, the president’s spokesman said it was better that he die in defense of democracy than be blamed by history.

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