Egypt’s military chief Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: AP)
Egypt’s army chief and defence minister Abdel Ftattah El Sisi vowed on Sunday to continue fulfilling “the people's mandate to confront terrorism."
“We are responsible before God to continue fulfilling the mandate, we will protect Egypt and the Egyptians, this is a promise,” El Sisi said in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war at Cairo’s Air Defence Stadium in the late hours of Sunday.
“We are keen to be the custodians of this order and mandate,” he added.
In July, El-Sisi, a revered figure among many Egyptians, called on people to take to the streets to give him a mandate to “confront terrorism," few weeks after the army overthrew president Mohamed Morsi.
The call resulted in massive pro-army rallies, with analysts saying the huge display of support paved the way for the army to crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which has seen most of its leaders arrested.
Despite the clampdown on the Brotherhood, which is accused by Egyptians authorities of masterminding “terrorist attacks” nationwide, defiant Islamists and Brotherhood sympathizers continued to stage weekly protests.
Hundreds of the Islamist group’s supporters were killed when the army crushed two pro-Morsi camps in Cairo last month and recurrent clashes ensued, hampering efforts to revive economy and tourism.
In the highest death toll in weeks, at least 51 were killed and more than 250 were injured in clashes pitting pro-Morsi demonstrators against their opponents and security forces on Sunday.
Egypt’s interim leadership says such demonstrations threaten public security.
In his speech, El Sisi spoke in an emotional tone to underline the “Egyptian people’s relationship with the army”.
“The military is as strong as the pyramids, because of the people,” he added.
“The people have always supported the army over the years. The army is willing to sacrifice the lives of its members for the good of the people.”
There have been calls for El-Sisi, who is branded by the Brotherhood as a traitor for deposing Morsi, to run for president in next year’s elections but he has hinted more than once he was not willing to assume such a role.