CAIRO - Amid rising tension ahead of mass rallies, a call by Egypt's army chief for political rivals to solve differences to avoid plunging the country into strife is winning plaudits from Islamists and liberals.
We value Defense Minister statement today, reiterate our call to other parties for dialogue to undercut desperate attempts for chaos, Saad El-Katatni, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said in a statement cited by Al-Ahram daily on Monday, June 24.He also stressed his appreciation for El-Sisi's keenness to keep the military away from politics.
Defense minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday warned that it will not allow plunging Egypt into bloody strife.
"There is a state of division in the society, and the continuation of it is a danger to the Egyptian state, he said at a meeting with army soldiers.
"There must be consensus," he stressed.
The minister said that the army would not remain silent as the country slides into uncontrollable conflict".
His statements came amid rising tension between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi.
Opposition groups are planning mass rallies on June 30, which marks the first anniversary of Morsi's inauguration as president.
Opponents accuse Morsi of being inefficient to run the country and call for early presidential election.
But supporters accuse opponents of seeking to reinstall the regime of deposed president Hosni Mubarak.
The tension escalated into street battles in a number of governorates, which left at least two people dead.
Four Shiites were also hacked to death in a Giza village by Sunni residents, who accused them of spreading Shiite ideas.
"The armed forces have stayed out of political matters in the recent past, but our national and moral responsibility towards the people obliges us to prevent Egypt slipping into a dark tunnel of civil unrest and killing, sectarianism and the collapse of state institutions," Sisi said.
"It is the national and moral duty of the army to intervene... to prevent sectarian strife or the collapse of state institutions.
The army warning has also won praise from the main opposition bloc in Egypt.
The National Salvation Front (NSF) appreciates the army's commitment to stand by the people's will, protect the country and reject the terrorization of citizens, it said in a statement.
The opposition accuses President Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, of siding with his Islamist allies.
The opposition has rejected Morsi's call for dialogue on the ground that it is void of any meaning.
Opponents have launched a campaign to gather signatures of the Egyptian for early presidential election.
The campaign, called Tamarod (rebellion in Arabic) has rapidly picked up steam, and organizers said they have collected 15 million signatures demanding that Morsi step down.
Morsi on Saturday has repeated his call for dialogue in an attempt to ease deep political divisions.
"I have said it before. I urge everyone to sit together to discuss what would achieve the interests of our nation," he said in an interview with the state-owned Akhbar al-Youm newspaper.
The Egyptian leader says political differences can still be resolved.
He has said he would consider bringing forward parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year, although no date has yet been set."I will continue in my pursuit for contact, and I may speed up parliamentary elections as a way of involving everyone in an agreed method to manage our differences.