World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt's army chief, who orchestrated the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, should not run for the leadership in elections due to be held next year, the head of the biggest liberal party told Reuters.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said in an interview with an Egyptian newspaper that now was the wrong time to raise the issue of whether he would stand for the presidency.
But he did not rule out taking part in any contest, and speculation has been rising that the former military intelligence officer under toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak could contest the vote.
"I don't think this is advisable and I don't think it would be a good thing for Sisi and the country that Sisi runs for the presidency," said Sayed El-Masry, head of the Al Dostour Party which is a major part of the country's main leftist and liberal coalition, the National Salvation Front.
"He is doing the country the best favour he can do from his position as a military chief," Masry said in an interview. "Sisi's nomination will give the wrong image to the world that what happened was a coup."
Sisi has said that he stepped in to remove Morsi in response to mass protests against the former leader's rule, which millions of Egyptians complained had pursued an overtly agenda and mismanaged the country's economy.
Morsi's supporters, many of them members of his Muslim Brotherhood movement, dismiss the intervention as a coup against Egypt's first freely elected president.
Egyptian security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters in violent protests that have swept the most populous Arab nation. Hundreds of members, including Morsi, have been detained and the movement has been outlawed.
More than 100 members of Egypt's security forces have also been killed since Morsi's ouster on July 3, many of them in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
Along the western edge of Sinai runs the Suez Canal, a waterway that is key to world trade and has also come under attack in recent months.
SISI POSTERS IN BUILDINGS
Masry defended the military did not stage a takeover, but was responding to popular demands to remove MOrsi and restore security to U.S. ally Egypt.
"This transition is the present arrangement but should be as short as possible to take us back to democracy."
Sisi would likely win if he ran for office, analysts said, pointing to his broad popularity in Egypt. Posters of Sisi, 58, who is also defence minister and deputy prime minister, hang on buildings across the country.
Sisi and other officials have repeatedly said they would not oppose the Brotherhood rejoining politics, but recent moves against the movement suggest otherwise.
"The Muslim Brotherhood, like it or not, want it or not, is present on the ground and will stay for a long period," said Masry.
"It is better they join the legitimate path for change or else there is a chance that the most violent and extremist groups like al Qaeda will tell them: 'didn't we tell you there is nothing called democracy? There is no way but by weapons'."
Masry said he was particularly concerned that Sinai could turn into a new base for al Qaeda if the army did not step up operations to counter an insurgency that has escalated there since Morsi was toppled.Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Ekim 2013, 16:37