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Tantawi slams report that army will field a presidential candidate as 'rumours'

Military ruler scotches rumours of an army presidential candidate and claims parliamentary elections were delayed at the request of political forces and youth parties

MENA, Wednesday 5 Oct 2011
Field Marshal Mohamed
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling military council (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt’s military ruler, Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, has denied the army plans to field a presidential candidate.

“These are only rumours and we shouldn’t waste time talking about rumours,” Tantawi said while opening an armed forces medical complex in Cairo's Kobry El-Kobba hospital today.

Tantawi also said parliamentary elections, which had been scheduled for September, were postponed at the request of Egypt’s political forces and youth parties who asked for more time to prepare for the first post-Mubarak elections. He added that he would like to encourage all Egyptians to participate in the elections, now set for 28 November, to ensure that the new parliament will be balanced and reflect the character of Egypt and all its political forces.

“We will not leave Egypt until we have fulfilled all we promised and do our duty towards the people,” Tantawi said. “The armed forces have no interest in staying for a long time.”

He also added that the ruling military council is reviewing the Nasser-era treason law, which revolutionaries want activated to banish members of the old regime from political life, to see if it will be useful or not.

He also denied the US Defence Minister, Leon Panetta, visited Egypt earlier this week in order to ask for the release of the alleged Israeli spy (Ilan Grapel), adding that US-Egyptian military ties were strong and Panetta’s visit was planned and not related to the spy.

The defacto ruler also discussed the security situation in Sinai and sought to provide assurances that the region is stable.

“The military situation in Sinai is 100 per cent stable and in the Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel we have conditions that divide Sinai into A, B and C regions,” Tantawi said.

“The armed forces, has complete control over all the regions agreed upon in the accords.”

“The B and C regions do not have any armed forces according to the Accords,” Tantawi said. “When the security situation in Sinai is not stable we sent armed forces units there.”

Tantawi also stressed the important role the Bedouins of Sinai play in insuring the region is stable, not only now but throughout the last decades.

He also asked Egyptians to give the country a chance to leap forward in all fields, stressing that recent strikes are curtailing progress.

“We have endless hope,” Tantawi said. “I ask all Egyptians to give Egypt, and not the government, the chance to progress. All these strikes and sit–ins are holding the country back. You have to give yourselves a chance so that Egypt can move forward in all fields.”

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