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Egypt army seeking 'peaceful' way to disperse sit-ins: Spokesman

Military spokesman asserts army has not set a deadline for dispersing the pro-Morsi demonstrations, which he says show a 'tendency towards violence'

Ahram Online , Friday 2 Aug 2013
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Egypt's military has said it sought a popular mandate to confront violence “with no time set for any moves” to end longstanding sit-ins by loyalists of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

Huge demonstrations took place on 26 July, heeding a call by army chief General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for Egyptians to demonstrate to grant him a mandate to confront "violence and terrorism.

"There has been a misunderstanding that the [pro-Morsi] vigils would be dispersed a day later," Ali added.

Speculation has grown in recent days that the pro-Morsi sit-ins in Giza and Cairo would be dispersed soon after the Egyptian cabinet on Wednesday announced it had authorised the interior ministry to end the protests.

Egypt's interior ministry has since urged supporters of the toppled Islamist leader to end their two sizeable protest camps in Cairo, pledging a safe exit to whoever responds to the call. Morsi's loyalists nevertheless called for fresh rallies on Friday.

"The matter requires a lot of evaluation and calculations,” military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali told the London-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on Friday. "This does not mean a retreat or [having been put under] pressure."

Ali affirmed the right to peaceful demonstrate, even if the demonstration lasts "for years" but stated that the pro-Morsi sit-ins have “departed from the peaceful context” and shown a “tendency towards violence” which is concurrent with “terrorism” and recurrent rocket attacks in the Sinai Peninsula.

Dozens of security personnel have been killed in armed attacks on state buildings and outposts in Sinai since Morsi’s ouster on 3 July.

He went on to affirm that the pro-Morsi vigils are armed, citing deadly clashes with security and army officers resulting from marches and rallies in which weapons were used, "leaving deaths on both sides."

Last week, at least 80 pro-Morsi protesters were killed in clashes with police at a rally near the sit-in Cairo’s Nasr City.

The army seeks a “peaceful" means to break up the protest camps without any bloodshed, the spokesman added.

He reiterated plans for a fully inclusive army-backed roadmap with no "exclusion" or exceptional measures.

The Egyptian military has "entirely" placed itself outside the political landscape since the ouster of Morsi and the appointment of the head of the High Constitutional Court as caretaker president, Ali said.

"We decline any political role...We seek to fulfil an accurate, democratic form of the Egyptian revolution."

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