Egypt army to deploy ahead of anti-gov't protests

Military will "not allow violence" at planned protests against Egyptian President Morsi; opposition demands early polls.

By REUTERS
June 15, 2013 13:39
2 minute read.
Policemen stand guard near Morsi poster, December 23, 2012

Policemen stand guard near Morsi poster 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

 
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CAIRO - Egypt's military will not allow violence during protests against President Mohamed Morsi that his opponents have planned for June 30, the first anniversary of the Islamist leader's election, a state newspaper said on Saturday.

"Security forces from the armed forces and the military police will deploy on all main roads" on June 28 "to secure vital installations and public facilities", Al Gomhuria said, quoting a military source.

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"The armed forces will not allow any confrontations that could lead to violence or drive the country into a spiral of blood during the June 30 protests," it said. "We are not with one side against another side."

Accusing Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers of seeking to dominate Egypt, the opposition is demanding early presidential polls to cut short his four-year term.

Islamist supporters of Morsi plan to hit the streets on Friday in what they have billed as a rally against violence.

The street protests are expected to be Egypt's biggest since the second anniversary of the uprising against Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25, when anti-Morsi unrest turned into days of violence.

Morsi's most extreme critics have been urging the army to remove him from power, demanding the type of intervention that led to Mubarak's downfall at the peak of the 2011 uprising. The army has signalled it intends to stay out of politics.



Last month, the head of the army, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said: "No one is going to remove anybody," adding that the army was not the solution to Egypt's political problems.

Citing the military source, Al Gomhuria said tools at the army's disposal ranged from imposing a curfew to martial law, "especially if matters slip out of control and red lines are crossed that threaten Egyptian national security".

The Egyptian army spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The military deployed in January in cities near the Suez Canal during the second anniversary protests. The violence was exacerbated by a court ruling sentencing to death 21 soccer fans from Port Said over a soccer stadium disaster in 2012.

The Republican Guards also deployed outside the presidential palace in December to separate protesters when violent, anti-Morsi protests erupted there.

The Islamists accuse the opposition of seeking to unseat an elected leader through undemocratic means. The opposition, made up mostly of liberal and leftist parties, says Morsi has betrayed promises to govern through consensus.

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