Spokesman of Salafist Al-Nour party Nader Bakkar (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt's largest Salafist party is not opposed to a presidential bid by army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, according to its spokesperson.
The Nour Party does not take a "negative position" or have any reservations about El-Sisi's candidacy, but only if he runs as a civilian, Nader Bakkar told pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.
El-Sisi's popularity has grown since the army deposed Mohamed Morsi – a Muslim Brotherhood member - on 3 July amid mass protests against the Islamist leader, with a large section of the population calling on him to run for president.
The army chief has given mixed pointers on whether he will run, first saying he does not seek power, but more recently leaving the possibility open.
Bakkar also claimed the Muslim Brotherhood does not want to end the country's political deadlock.
"They are trying to martyr themselves with continued protests that do nothing but hold [the country] back," he said. "They have thrown away several chances for negotiations."
Hundreds of people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in deadly street violence since Morsi's removal. The authorities have launched a broad crackdown, arresting most of the Brotherhood's senior leaders and several thousand other Islamists.
The ongoing violence shows the Brotherhood is continuing to take the same approach, Bakkar added, contending that the group's popularity has waned significantly.
The Nour Party was founded shortly after the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The Salafist party, a one time ally of the Brotherhood, backed Morsi's overthrow by endorsing a transitional roadmap that included amending the constitution, and holding parliamentary and presidential polls by mid-2014.
But the party, which has one of two Islamists on the 50-member constitution-writing committee, has repeatedly voiced misgivings about attempts to curtail the influence of Islam in state affairs, having its panel member walk out of a September meeting in protest.
Bakkar reiterated his concerns about the "unbalanced" panel that underrepresents Islamists. He questioned the appointment of Kamal El-Halabawy, a former Brotherhood leader turned vocal critic of the group, to the second Islamist seat.
"Choosing him raises many question marks," he said.
Bakkar made it clear that Al-Azhar – the highest seat of Sunni Islam – should have the final say on Sharia-related matters, and he continued to voice alarm over moves to ban religious political parties which dominated successive elections after Mubarak's downfall.