CAIRO – Egypt's military ruler warned on Sunday of "extremely grave" consequences if the turbulent nation does not pull through its current crisis.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, in comments carried by the nation's official news agency, also urged voters to turn out for the parliamentary elections starting on Monday.
"We will not allow troublemakers to meddle in the elections," he said. "Egypt is at a crossroads -- either we succeed politically, economically and socially or the consequences will be extremely grave and we will not allow that," he said.
Tantawi's warning came as thousands of protesters were filling Cairo's Tahrir Square for another massive demonstration to push for him and other generals on the ruling military council he heads to immediately step down in favor of a civilian presidential council and a "national salvation" government to run the country's affairs until a president is elected.
The military took the reins of power when Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February by a popular uprising, but it has come under intense criticism for most of the past nine months for its failure to restore security, stop the rapid worsening of the economy or introduce the far-reaching reforms called for by the youth groups behind Mubarak's fall and the ongoing protest movement.
Sunday's rally falls on the ninth day of a revival of the protest movement that toppled Mubarak. At least 41 protesters, mostly in Cairo, have been killed in the latest protests and more than 2,000 have been wounded.