Egypt's military leaders have threatened to use force against protesters as demonstrations about the controverisla presidential elections continued in Tahrir Square.
Protesters have flooded the streets of Cairo for four days running. They have been led by the Muslim Brotherhood in defiance of the military council's expansion of its powers and dissolution of parliament just days before the second-round run-off between the two remaining candidates.
In a television broadcast, the country's ruling junta warned that they would use "the utmost firmness" against those they believed were acting against "the higher interests of the country".
"The armed forces have emphasised self-control out of respect for the revolutionary state to avoid losses or injuries as part of the people exercise their right to express their opinions," the spokesman said.
"Everyone should respect the principles of legitimacy for fear of the dangers of abandoning them."
The statement represents a clear warning to the brotherhood, the principle opponent to the military council formerly under president Hosni Mubarak.
Both the brotherhood's candidate, Mohamed Mursi, and former premier Ahmed Shafik declared themselves the winner after the polls closed on 17 June. Mursi told the Egyptian press that the protests would continue following the council's decision to dissolve parliament and widen its authority while eroding presidential powers.
Mursi, who stressed that the protests would be peaceful, said the military power-grab was "the latest indication yet that there won't be a meaningful handover to civilian rule".
The presidential election committee has delayed any confirmation of the vote results, as it considers accusations of voter manipulation and fraud. The results are hoped to be released on 23 or 24 June.