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Egypt Army Chief Calls for Nationwide Rallies

DOHA, Qatar, Jul 24 2013 - Egypt’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for nationwide rallies to give the military a mandate to confront what he termed violence and terrorism following the removal of President Mohamed Morsi.

In a speech on Wednesday at a military graduation ceremony, Sisi called for the protests to be held on Friday, and denied accusations that he had betrayed Morsi.

“I ask … that next [upcoming] Friday all honest and trustworthy Egyptians must come out,” Sisi said in remarks broadcast live by state media. “Why come out? They come out to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism.”

Sisi also vowed to stick to a political roadmap that laid the way for a reform of the constitution and new elections within some six months.

He said his appeal for protests was not a call for violence and expressed support for efforts for national reconciliation.

The Muslim Brotherhood reacted quickly, with senior member Essam al-Erian issuing a statement directed at Sisi saying: “Your threat will not prevent millions to rally against coup … You have been always in your office conspiring.”

In a press conference later, Egypt’s opposition Islamist coalition read out a list of its stipulations. They called for Sisi to be tried for crimes against humanity, and termed Friday’s rally “irresponsible” and “an announcement of civil war”.

They also called on their supporters to oppose Sisi’s call.

“[General Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi’s threats are an announcement of civil war,” said the Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition which has been demanding Morsi’s reinstatement ever since his overthrow in a Jul. 3 coup.

Violence continues

The military also reacted, declaring a ‘state of alert’. A source confirmed to Al Jazeera that the army would deploy in the coming hours additional troops in all streets and provinces and especially greater Cairo and the surrounding areas to secure them against any violence.

The source added that the armed forces will work on preventing any attempt to “incite violence or terrorism”.

The army chief’s speech came ahead of proposed “national reconciliation” sessions called for by the interim leader Adly Mansour, and followed renewed violence in and outside the capital Cairo, in which at least three people died.

Sisi offered condolences to the families of victims killed in such violence, which has been seen as recently as Wednesday morning.

Unknown gunmen who shot at Morsi supporters in Cairo killed at least two people, witnesses and health officials confirmed, adding to a death toll of more than 100 people since the president was removed by the military on Jul. 3.

In a separate development on the same day, a bomb exploded at a police station in a province north of Cairo, killing one conscript, and wounding more than 15 people, health officials said.

Reconciliation talks

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood has said it will boycott Mansour’s reconciliation talks.

A senior member of Al-Nour, Egypt’s most powerful Salafi party, told Al Jazeera that it will also not be attending.

“The Muslim Brotherhood rejected an invite to Wednesday’s national reconciliation meeting. For them, the legitimate president of Egypt is Mohamed Morsi,” said Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba in Cairo.

Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, tweeted a warning against the talks.

“Military coup government failed to stop bloodshed and detains tens of peaceful protestors every day and besieges media and closes its channel. Which reconciliation are you calling for?” he wrote.

Earlier this week, Mansour renewed appeals for reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We want to turn a new page in the country’s book with no hatred, no malice, no division,” he said in a pre-recorded speech that also highlighted the importance of the army in Egypt’s history.

Published under an agreement with Al Jazeera.

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