Strong Egypt Party leader Abdel Moneim Abou El Fatouh (Photo: Reuters)
Moderate Islamist politician Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, whose Strong Egypt Party has been critical of both the Muslim Brotherhood and the interim government, has condemned what he says is the army's continued interference in Egypt's political scene.
In an interview with Ahram's daily Arabic newspaper on Sunday, the former Muslim Brotherhood member said that although ousted president Mohamed Morsi's one-year term was a failure, his removal should have been done through "ballot boxes."
"That was our dispute with the National Salvation Front [a coalition of non-Islamists that supported the 30 June protests leading to Morsi's removal]," Abul-Fotouh said. "They preferred the ousting of Morsi through a coup d'état."
"We can't ask the army to interfere every time we elect a failing president," he said, adding that the only role of the armed forces is to defend the country's borders.
Abul-Fotouh pointed out that while the army turned against Morsi, it didn't turn against former president Hosni Mubarak during his corrupt 30-year rule.
"When the army went down to the streets on 25 January , it didn't take the side of the people or Mubarak. It went down after the police collapsed and then took a neutral stance."
On 11 February 2011, 15 days after the army was deployed in major cities across the country to maintain order, then-Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that the Mubarak had decided to hand authority over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Abul-Fouth refuted claims that Morsi was responsible for the recent spike in militant attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula, arguing that terrorism has existed in Sinai throughout the terms of Mubarak, SCAF, Morsi and the current interim government as well.
Instead, he blamed the army for the rise in attacks, which have killed scores of security personnel since Morsi's ouster.
"Terrorism entered Sinai because the army was busy playing politics," he said, adding that the majority of the country's alleged terrorists who were released following the 25 January uprising were later pardoned by former field marshal Hussein Tantawi and not by Morsi.
He further added that most of the released had been unjustly detained and had already finished their jail terms.
While he denounced the attacks targeting security forces, he also stressed that the police apparatus must be trained and ready to face such assaults
The only way to end the current onslaught of terrorism and violence, he offered, is to halt the "oppressive media and the hatred it promotes" as well as the ongoing crackdown by security forces on dissent.
Abul-Fouth, who has announced a boycott of the upcoming presidential elections, said that the polls offer no guarantees for a democratic transition.
"Can anyone compete with General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi after the advertising campaign made for him?" he asked.
On 9 February, Abul-Fotouh announced that he would not run as a presidential candidate, describing the polls as a "mockery" of elections.
Abul-Fouth's Strong Egypt Party also boycotted the constitutional referendum in mid-January that had been billed by interim authorities as a milestone in the post-Morsi transitional road map.
Although El-Sisi has yet to announce his official candidacy, speculation over his nomination has run wild in recent weeks following alleged leaks and statements from the army, top politicians and both Egyptian and foreign media sources.
Nasserist politician and 2012 presidential contender Hamdeen Sabbahi is the only candidate to have so far announced his intention to run.
Campaigns for ex-chief of staff Sami Anan and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali have reportedly said that they will soon reveal their plans regarding the polls.