CAIRO Egypt's army-backed government will dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a non-governmental organization within days, a newspaper reported on Friday, a move that would press a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Mursi's movement.
The move applies to the NGO registered by the Brotherhood in March in response to a lawsuit that argued the group had no legal status. It would mark a mostly symbolic legal blow to Mursi's group as the authorities round up its members in the harshest crackdown in decades.
The privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper said the decision would be taken "within days", quoting Hany Mahana, spokesman for the minister of social solidarity.
The same official was quoted by the state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper saying the decision was already taken.
"The minister's decision has in fact been issued but it will be announced at the start of next week in a press conference," it said.
Mahana could not be reached for comment.
A government official denied a decision had been taken.
The Brotherhood won parliamentary and presidential elections after veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 but the army deposed Mursi on July 3 in response to mass protests against his rule.
The security forces have killed hundreds of Mursi's supporters and arrested many of its leaders on charges of inciting violence. There has so far been no attempt to ban its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party.
Al-Akhbar said Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed el-Boraie's decision to dissolve the group as an NGO stemmed from accusations that the Brotherhood had used its headquarters to fire and store weapons and explosives.
Brotherhood officials had failed to meet a deadline for responding to the accusations, it said.
The General Federation of NGOs had sent a letter to the Ministry of Social Solidarity on Thursday giving its consent to the dissolution of the Brotherhood.
Though formally outlawed under Mubarak, the Brotherhood was grudgingly tolerated for much of his presidency, taking part in parliamentary elections and operating a charity network that helped to it to become Egypt's biggest political party.
The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 but formally dissolved by Egypt's army rulers in 1954. The group's opponents drew on that to argue the Brotherhood remained an illegal movement even after Mubarak's downfall.
In response, the Brotherhood decided to shore up its legal standing by formally registering as an NGO.
(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Angus MacSwan)