Field Marshal Tantawi: Army will succeed and return to barracks soon

Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Jul 2011

Tantawi assures officers that army intends to hand power to a civilian government and will return to defending against external threats

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Field Marshal Tantawi

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of Egypt’s ruling military council, said that the armed forces intend to hand power back to a democratically elected civilian government as promised back in February, and that officers and soldiers will return to their primary task of fending off external dangers.

Tantawi told officers from the Egyptian 3rd Army, during a visit to a routine training session, that the armed forces are part of the people and that he is convinced that 100 per cent of Egyptians support it.

He told officers that the army had not chosen to play a political role in the country’s affairs but that it had had to do so to safeguard the January 25 Revolution. Tantawi said he is convinced that the army will succeed in this mission. He added that the army’s military readiness was not affected by events in the last seven months and urged soldiers to continue to develop their technical capabilities to defend Egypt effectively.

The field marshall tried to calm officers who were clearly irritated by the growing public and media criticism of army actions and intentions. Tantawi told officers that he believes people have the right to their opinions and that the army must focus on getting its job done. He added that most newspapers in the country are “patriotic” but some seem to be acting in an irresponsible manner.

Tantawi said he is proud of his military record, having fought in three wars against Israel (1956, 1967 and 1973) as well as the 1991 war to liberate Kuwait.

Air Marshal Sami Enan, second-in-command in the ruling military council, accompanied Tantawi on his visit.

In recent days, the field marshal, who has kept a low profile since the ousting of former president Mubarak on 11 February, gave a speech and made several public appearances that state media was keen to make front page news.

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