CAIRO: A senior Muslim Brotherhood official said on Saturday a statement by Egypt’s military calling for dialogue was a welcome step in helping to end a political crisis that did not take sides.
Abdel Khaleq Al Sherif, a senior official in the group that propelled President Mohamed Mursi into elected office, said the statement was “balanced”, adding it was right for the military “not (to engage) in political manoeuvres.”
The statement “announces that the army’s loyalty is to the people and this is good,” he told Reuters.
A statement issued by Egypt’s armed forces calling for dialogue and pledging to protect state institutions and the people does not signal a return to politics, a military source said on Saturday.
“It is obvious from the statement that the military is just explaining what happened, as at the end it thanked its forces for going out on the streets and protecting public institutions, and it does not indicate any future intervention in politics,” the source, who is close to top officers, told Reuters. The armed forces have not intervened in the latest crisis.
Also during the day the main Islamic parties, including Brotherhood, rejected on Saturday opposition demands to delay a Dec.15 referendum on a new constitution they helped draft.
Egypt’s Vice President Mohamed Mekki on Friday said the referendum could be delayed, but only if the opposition guaranteed it would not exploit what would be a legal breach of Mursi’s duty to hold the plebiscite by Dec.15.
The 13 parties “insist that the referendum on the constitution take place on the scheduled date, with no modification or delay,” according to a joint statement read to media by the number two of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat Al Shater.
The concession only goes part-way towards meeting the demands of the opposition, who also want Mursi to scrap the decree awarding himself wide powers.
The state news agency reported that the election committee had postponed the start of voting for Egyptians abroad until Wednesday, instead of Saturday as planned.