FJP reiterates calls to keep Egypt's military out of domestic politics

Ayat Al-Tawy , Tuesday 26 Feb 2013

After calls from some quarters for military's return to political stage, Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) condemns 'attempts to drive wedge' between Egyptian army, people

The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has urged Egyptian political leaders to support the notion of keeping the military out of the country's chaotic political scene.

In a Tuesday statement, the FJP – the political arm of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which President Mohamed Morsi hails – slammed what it described as attempts by certain political forces "to drive a wedge between the people and the armed forces."

"The party acknowledges the key role played by the army in Egypt's [25 January 2011] revolution," read the statement. "The armed forces efficiently administered a historical electoral process and safeguarded the Egyptian popular will until it successfully handed over power to an elected president."

The FJP statement came amid calls by certain Egyptian opposition figures for the military's reinsertion into domestic politics. They have argued that such a move would be justified, in light of the country's deteriorating political and economic circumstances.

"If Egypt is on the brink of default, if law and order is absent, [the army] has a national duty to intervene," Mohamed ElBaradei, co-founder of Egypt's opposition National Salvation Front, told the BBC on Sunday.

On the same day, hundreds of people staged a rally at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier in Cairo's Nasr City district to call for the reengagement of the military in Egyptian politics.

Military leaders, for their part, have repeatedly voiced their reluctance to resume playing any kind of political role.

Nevertheless, Army Chief-of-Staff Sedki Sobhi recently affirmed that, while the army had no intention of returning to politics, it "could still play a role if the situation becomes more complicated."

For six decades until last summer's presidential elections, Egypt has been run by leaders drawn from the ranks of the military. Ousted president Hosni Mubarak had served as an air force commander before assuming the presidency in 1981.

In its Tuesday statement, the FJP repudiated "any prejudice against the armed forces," vowing to "take disciplinary action against anyone convicted of slandering the army."

The statement followed recent reports that a Muslim Brotherhood leader had accused the military of engineering an attack last August in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed near the border with Israel.

On Monday, Ali Abdel-Fattah, a leading Brotherhood member in Alexandria, quashed allegations that he had accused the army of complicity in the attack.

"No one sensible would accuse the army of killing its own people," Abdel-Fattah asserted. "But some analysis suggests that the attack was masterminded by foreign elements only days after President Morsi took office." 

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