Egypt's Abol Fotouh warns against army-called rally

CAIRO Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:25pm EDT

Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh talks during an interview with Reuters, Cairo June 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh talks during an interview with Reuters, Cairo June 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian army's call for rallies on Friday risks triggering violence, the party led by former Islamist Presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh said on Wednesday, urging the military to row back for the sake of peace.

"That call could lead to civil unrest, God forbid, in light of the opposing mobilization," the Strong Egypt party said in a statement, adding that it had listened to General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's appeal for demonstrations with "deep concern".

Supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, already camped out in a Cairo suburb in protest at his removal, have also called for protests for Friday.

Sisi earlier on Wednesday urged Egyptians to rally on Friday to give the army a mandate to act against what he described as violence and terrorism.

"The idea of drawing the masses into the picture removes (the army) from the neutrality by which it promised to abide," Abol Fotouh's party said.

Abol Fotouh quit the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011 to mount an independent bid for the presidency and has distanced himself from the Islamist movement since then.

In contrast, liberal politician Amr Moussa, a former head of the Arab League, was broadly supportive of the speech, but said it was important to safeguard the right to demonstrate.

"I would like to stress that no exceptional measures should be taken against protesters, and that freedom of expression and protest will not be touched," Moussa said in a statement, lamenting that Sisi had not made his call jointly with the interim government appointed after Mursi's ouster.

(Reporting Ali Abdellati, Tom Perry and Yasmine Saleh, Editing by Crispian Balmer and Matt Robinson)

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