Head of Egypt's ruling military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday reiterated that the country's first post-Mubarak presidential elections – slated for later this month – would be conducted fairly and with transparency.
"We promise to hold excellent elections," Tantawi said during a military training session. "With the assistance of the civil police and the Egyptian judiciary, this month's presidential poll will be even better than recent parliamentary and Shura Council elections."
The military ruler also thanked Egypt's armed forces for the role they played in Egypt's post-revolution transitional phase, which began following the ouster of longstanding Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak early last year.
He went on to emphasise that Egypt's military had "faced stress and psychological pressure after being attacked with stones and insulted," in a reference to the series of post-revolution clashes between army personnel and protesters opposed to military rule.
Tantawi added that Egypt's armed forces had "paid the price" for protecting the country, stressing that no other institution would have been able to do so.
He also urged members of the armed forces not to give in to attempts to make them abandon their commitment to protecting Egypt from both internal and external threats, adding that it was their "sacred duty" to do so.
Tantawi went on to assert that peace in the region was by no means assured.
"Is peace guaranteed?" Tantawi asked rhetorically. "Of course, not. When interests conflict, and one nation is weaker than the other, then it can be attacked. That's why we always must be ready to fight."
Tantawi is expected to hand over power to Egypt's next president on 30 June. He has said that he plans to retire following this month's election.
Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll will be held on 23 and 24 May, with a runoff round on 16 and 17 June if no single candidate wins an outright majority. Egypt's next president will be formally named on 21 June.