Aug 18 2013
Egypt's military leader has vowed that the army will not tolerate further political violence after nationwide clashes killed hundreds, as security forces detained Muslim Brotherhood members in raids aimed at disrupting planned rallies.
Defence minister General Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, who led the July 3 coup that toppled president Mohammed Morsi, again said the army has no intention of seizing power in the Arab world's most populous country.
Mr El-Sissi removed Mr Morsi after four days of mass rallies by millions of Egyptians who demanded the president step down.
Clashes between Morsi supporters and police killed 79 people on Saturday alone, according to a government tally. That raised the death toll for four days of unrest across the country to 888 people killed.
"We will not stand by silently watching the destruction of the country and the people or the torching the nation and terrorising the citizens," Mr El-Sissi said in a speech aired on state television. The general said that the military did not seek power but instead "have the honour to protect the people's will - which is much dearer (than) ruling Egypt".
Mr 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.
Mr 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 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.