We will preserve the revolution, says Egypt’s interim president

We will preserve the revolution, says Egypt’s interim president

Egypt’s interim president pledged to protect his country against those who sought chaos and violence in the aftermath of a popularly-backed military coup, promising justice and reconciliation for all.

Adly Mansour gave his first address to the nation ahead of planned protests today by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s military, already worried by post-coup violence that has killed more than 60 people, issued a stern warning about causing unrest during the scheduled protests by both the Brotherhood and Morsi opponents.

In his eight-minute, pre-recorded message broadcast on state television, Mr Mansour said Egypt was going through a “decisive period” in its history where some wanted to drag the country towards the “unknown” and cause chaos.

“They want this period to be an introduction to violence and blood, and we want it to establish for the concept of protecting lives and human rights,” Mr Mansour said.

He did not name those who he said “are pushing the nation towards the abyss thinking they are doing good” – but clearly was referring to pro-Morsi protesters. He said those who protested against Mr Morsi starting on June 30 were “the genuine owners of legitimacy”.

Mr Mansour said his government was committed to realising security and stability and would not be “scared or terrorised”. And he vowed not to be “lenient with those who kill the innocents”.

“We will go through the battle for security to the end. We will preserve the revolution,” he said. “History will not turn around.”

Mr Mansour said justice and reconciliation would be “for all, without exclusion or exception”, suggesting that the process would include Islamists and former regime officials.

A senior Brotherhood official and former politician, Saad Emara, said after the speech that his group did not recognise Mr Mansour as the country’s leader. Mr Emara called Mr Mansour merely a representative of General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the nation’s army chief.

Mansour’s speech is a sign that he and the interim administration are nervous of any opposition on the street, Emara said.

“There is a contradiction in his speech between the threats and the call for reconciliation,” Mr Emara said. “They want to turn this page.”

A massive rally is planned today by supporters of Mr Morsi, overthrown two weeks ago in a military coup following massive protests against him.

The Muslim Brotherhood continues to demand Mr Morsi’s reinstatement. Anti-Morsi protesters also have called for demonstrations today to celebrate Mr Morsi’s removal and Mr Mansour’s naming of a new cabinet.

Some protests since the coup have turned violent. In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, military spokesman Col Ahmed Mohammed Ali said that “whoever resorts to violence and deviates from peacefulness in Friday’s rallies will put his life in danger”.

Violators “will be dealt with decisively according to the law”, he said.

Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref denied claims circulating yesterday that Morsi supporters planned to be violent in the coming protests, saying sit-ins held since before the coup showed their movement was peaceful.

One speaker at Mr Aref’s news conference earlier claimed that Egyptian intelligence agents spread the rumours, but did not elaborate.

“We vehemently deny that we have pamphlets calling for road blocking or targeting military installations. All this is misleading,” Mr Aref said.

Brotherhood officials in the past have accused security agencies of setting them up, including one incident in which they say violence in Sinai was staged to legitimize a crackdown against Islamists.

The suspicion comes amid increasing tension between Islamists and the military following the coup.

That tension erupted in violence in the bloodiest single incident of Egypt’s two and a half years of rocky transition.

On July 8, 51 protesters and three security staff were killed in clashes outside the Republic Guard Club where Morsi supporters believed the leader was held following his July 3 overthrow. Authorities say Mr Morsi is being held now in undisclosed military facility.

The Brotherhood says the military and police opened fire without reason on peaceful protesters.

The military says armed Islamists started the violence by attacking the club. Human Rights Watch has said that authorities moved in to break up a peaceful sit-in and some Morsi supporters used live ammunition.

Since the shooting deaths, another large rally organised by Morsi supporters in central Cairo sparked street clashes with the police, in which residents also attacked Morsi supporters. Seven were killed and hundreds injured in the overnight fighting.

On the eve of today’s rally, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie issued a statement calling on the military to reconsider its decisions and “return to righteousness … and accept the will of the people”.

Today’s rallies coincide with the tenth day of Ramadan, which Egyptians celebrate as the day the armed forces crossed the Suez Canal in the 1973 war with Israel.

Mr Badie used the occasion to celebrate achievements of the armed forces and appeal to members of the military to remember that their real mission was to defend Egypt.

“We call on the leaders of the coup to return to righteousness, (to) quit what is wrong,” he said.

In the sit-in by Morsi supporters, organisers read Mr Badie’s message. The protesters immediately broke out into the chant, “The people and army are one hand”.

Mr Badie and a dozen other Brotherhood figures and supporters are wanted by prosecutors for their alleged role in inciting violence.

In his statement, he urged protesters to remain peaceful.

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