'Down with military rule' chant harmed revolution: Egypt's Hamdeen Sabbahi

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Jun 2013

Controversy sparked on social media sites after Nasserist leader critical of earlier military rule backtracks ahead of 30 June mass demonstrations against the Muslim Brotherhood regime

Leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahi (Photo: Reuters)

"The chanting of 'Down with military rule' harmed the revolution," opposition figure Hamdeen Sabbahi has told Al-Hayat newspaper.

The paper published excerpts on its website Sunday from an interview with the former presidential candidate. The complete interview is scheduled to be released within the next week.

According to Sabbahi, the Brotherhood 'flirted' with the army, which was ruling Egypt after a popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, to gain power. He added that the Muslim Brotherhood "joined the revolution after it gained momentum," and not from the beginning as some claim.

Sabbahi, who is currently head of the Egyptian Popular Current, stated in interview that 30 June is a "new wave in resuming the revolution and stopping the tyranny of the Brotherhood."

"The Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Office is the president's president," Sabbahi asserted, giving voice to the opposition's claim that the president gets his orders from the Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie. 

Sabbahi's statements come one week before the scheduled "Rebel" campaign mass protests to demand snap elections. The Rebel campaign is a signature drive campaign to collect 15 million signatures to outnumber the 13.2 Morsi won to become Egypt's first civilian president. The campaign chose 30 June for demonstrations as it marks Morsi's first year in the presidency.

The Rebel campaign, which is backed by Egypt's main opposition umbrella the National Salvation Front (NSF) and other political groups, argues that Egypt's conditions deteriorated during Morsi's year reign as president.

The campaign together with political parties and groups rejected at a press conference Saturday any military takeover of power if President Morsi is forced to step down.

Opposition forces strongly campaigned against military rule before Muslim Brotherhood candidate Morsi was inaugurated as president in June 2012, announcing by constitutional declaration the forced retirement of Egypt's top army leaders in August 2012.

Sabbahi also revealed to the London-based newspaper that President Morsi asked Sabbahi during the final round of the Egyptian presidential elections in 2012 to be his vice president. Sabbahi declined.

According to Sabbahi he was offered the same position from losing presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, which Sabbahi also turned down.

The excerpts of the interview, especially Sabbahi's statement about chants against the military harming the revolution, created controversy on the social media among pro-revolutionary activists who accused Sabbahi of hypocrisy towards the army.

"People did not even wait to read the interview to see what Sabbahi exactly said regarding this matter, making their judgement based on headlines only" said Hossam Moanis, a leading figure in Sabbahi's Popular Current.

"Hamdeen Sabbahi may have meant that the chant was being used by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to take over rule, seizing on the mistakes of SCAF. People have to wait to know in full what he said," Moanis said.

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