Presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has defended his decision to salute president Mohamed Morsi while the latter was in office.
Failing to do so would have been disrespectful, the former army chief said during his third pre-election television interview, which was aired on Sunday.
“I was representing the state. If you do not want to salute the president, you have to leave, according to military tradition,” he said in pre-recorded comments on Al-Hayat private satellite channel.
In a previous interview, his election rival Hamdeen Sabahi had criticised El-Sisi for saluting Morsi.
In other comments, El-Sisi said confidential documents concerning Egyptian national security were smuggled abroad during the Morsi era.
He also denied the armed forces had any plans to topple Morsi prior to mass protests against him on 30 June 2013.
“The most dangerous thing the Muslim Brotherhood did during [its period of rule] was intimidation, which the army could not accept,” El-Sisi said.
He added: “I do not like to discuss the army's military or political matters in public, or in the media, because this is extremely dangerous.”
He went on to insist that the army does not cost the state a “single penny.”
Under the constitution, the army’s budget is supervised by parliament.
Asked about the arrest and detention of activists, El-Sisi said: “There can be no resumption of the police state after the January 25 revolution. This was not even possible in the darkest times following the revolution.”
He added that there was no need for exceptional procedures or detentions as the law is enough and has its own “claws.”
The former field marshal, who was appointed defence minister by Mohamed Morsi, said it was sometimes necessary to have military officials in high civilian positions, such as governors of border provinces.
He added that the army’s role is to protect not govern.
The next section of the interview will be recorded on Monday evening by Al-Hayat, Dream and Al-Nahar television channels.