Egypt army chief says new clashes won’t be tolerated

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Egypt army chief says new clashes won’t be tolerated

Egypt’s military leader vowed on Sunday that the army will not tolerate further political violence after nationwide clashes that left hundreds dead, as security forces detained Muslim Brotherhood members in raids aimed at disrupting planned rallies.

By (AP)

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Published: Sun 18 Aug 2013, 10:32 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:29 PM

Defence Minister Gen Abdel Fatah El Sissi, who led the July 3 coup that toppled President Mohammed Mursi, again said the army has no intention of seizing power in the Arab world’s most populous country. El Sissi removed Mursi after four days of mass rallies by millions of Egyptians who demanded the president step down.

“We will not stand by silently watching the destruction of the country and the people or the torching the nation and terrorising the citizens,” he said in a speech aired on state television.

The general said that the military didn’t seek power but instead “have the honour to protect the people’s will — which is much dearer (than) ruling Egypt.”

El Sissi also said Islamists must be included in the country’s politics moving forward. A military timetable calls for the nation’s constitution to be amended and for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2014.

“We have given many chances ... to end the crisis peacefully and call for the followers of the former regime to participate in rebuilding the democratic track and integrate in the political process and the future map instead of confrontations and destroying the Egyptian state,” he told a gathering of top military commanders and police chiefs.

El Sissi’s remarks come ahead of an anticipated harsher stance by the military-backed government toward the Brotherhood. The Cabinet held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss potentially banning the group, a long-outlawed organisation that swept to power in the country’s first democratic elections a year ago.

A possible ban — which authorities say would be implemented over the group’s use of violence — would be a repeat of the decades-long struggle between the state and the Brotherhood. It also would drain the group’s financial resources and allow for mass arrests of its members. That likely would diminish the chances of a negotiated solution to the crisis and push it again underground.

The Brotherhood, however, has shown no signs of backing down.

Under the banner of an anti-coup alliance, the group said it will hold a demonstration in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court in southern Cairo later Sunday. Authorities already stationed armoured vehicles and troops at the building, which could turn into another focal point of street violence.

The Brotherhood faces increasing public criticism and blame over the ongoing violence in Egypt. Sheik Ahmed Al Tayyeb, the powerful head of Al Azhar mosque, issued an audio statement asking Brotherhood members to stop the violence.

“The scenes of violence will not grant you any rights and the bloodshed nor chaos spreading across the country will give you no legitimacy,” Al Tayyeb said.

The violence in Egypt also has sparked deep concerns worldwide.

Egypt also lost one of the few doves in the country’s military-backed administration as Mohammed El Baradei, who resigned as vice-president in protest of the use of force against Mursi’s supporters, left Cairo for Vienna on Sunday.

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