CAIRO Egypt's leading left-wing politician endorsed military intervention to oust elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi and said he expected a short transition to a new democratic president and parliament.
Hamdeen Sabahi, leader of the Popular Current movement, who came third in last year's presidential election, said the army had implemented the will of the people and was not seeking power for itself.
"This action has led to a reconciliation between the people and the army after a long time of estrangement," he told Reuters in an interview on Friday as pro- and anti-Mursi demonstrators clashed in central Cairo.
Those who called Mursi's removal this week a military coup were insulting the Egyptian people, who had turned out in their millions to demand his ouster, Sabahi said.
He called for former U.N. nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent liberal politician, to be appointed prime minister for an interim period he hoped would not last longer than six months until an amended constitution was in place.
The armed forces suspended the constitution, placed Mursi in detention and appointed the head of the supreme constitutional court, Adli Mansour, as interim head of state.
Sabahi, a firebrand orator who models himself on former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, spelled out the sequence of steps he said had been agreed for the transition.
"We have agreed on a roadmap that has a new constitution that will be drafted by a committee to amend the suspended constitution and change the disputed articles, after which people will vote on it in a referendum. Then, there will be a presidential election, then a parliamentary election," he said.
Sabahi accused Mursi of having pursued the same wrong foreign policy of following the West as ex-president Hosni Mubarak, toppled in a 2011 popular uprising. He blamed the United States for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood long after Egyptians had turned against the Islamist president.
"The Egyptian people hold the United States responsible for supporting a rule that was rejected by the people who took legitimacy away from it, and the American administration has to realize that," he said.
He defended the action of armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, saying he had sided with the people and sought no position for himself.
"Where is General Sisi's position now? He's not the president or prime minister. He is protecting the will of the people and we should salute him for that," Sabahi said.
"This is what a national army is for, not to make coups."
(Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)