Egyptian Army denies 'coup', aims to push politicians

Cairo, Reuters | Updated : 02 July 2013, 08:50 AM

The Egyptian armed forces issued a statement on Monday denying that an earlier statement from its commander amounted to a military coup and said his aim was only to push politicians to reach consensus.

Denying any political ambitions for itself, the military said it was responding to the "pulse of the Egyptian street" in issuing an ultimatum to political leaders to unite after mass rallies on Sunday against President Mohamed Mursi.

Earlier, President Mohamed Morsi met the head of Egypt's armed forces along with the prime minister on Monday, according to a statement on the president's official Facebook page.

The page was updated after General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a virtual ultimatum to Morsi to reach a power-sharing agreement with his political rivals within 48 hours.

The Facebook page showed a photograph of Morsi with Sisi and Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, sitting in easy chairs and smiling. It was not clear when it was taken.

Egypt forces arrest Brotherhood leader's guards

Egyptian security forces arrested 15 armed bodyguards of the number two in the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat El-Shater, on Monday after an exchange of fire in which no one was injured, security sources said.

The Brotherhood's political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), denied the report, and quoted Shater as saying his private driver had been kidnapped after shooting in the area.

The sources said the shootout occurred when security forces went to arrest the guards for alleged unlawful possession of firearms they are suspected of having used to shoot at protesters attacking the Brotherhood's headquarters on Sunday.

Eight people were killed and more than a dozen injured in clashes around the Brotherhood building on a suburban hilltop overlooking Cairo.

Shater's family telephoned Al Jazeera television station to report that his home was under attack.

Shater's own whereabouts were not immediately known. He is widely regarded as the strongest personality in the Islamist movement, but who was barred from running for president last year because he had been jailed under toppled ex-President Hosni Mubarak's authoritian rule.

The FJP posted a statement on its Facebook page denying that the bodyguards had been arrested.

It quoted Shater as saying officers arrived in three police cars, broke into his residence, and "concocted" a fight with young men in the area. Heavy shooting ensued and his personal driver was kidnapped, the statement said.

"The situation is now calm after the arrival of dozens of Brotherhood youth to defend us," he was quoted as saying.

The incident occurred on a day when the armed forces issued an ultimatum to Islamist President Mohamed Morsi to agree within 48 hours on a power-sharing consensus with opposition parties or face more direct military intervention.

Generals from Egypt's powerful armed forces ruled Egypt for six decades until Morsi was elected last year after an uprising in 2011 ended Mubarak's rule.

Shater, a wealthy businessman and influential Brotherhood leader, was seen by many Egyptians as the shadow power behind Morsi's throne. He was hated by Mubarak who put him in jail for many years.

One of Shater's bodyguards was sentenced to one year in prison earlier this year for owning an illegal weapon. A security source said his other guards had "illegal arms and were a threat to Egypt's security".

First Published: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 08:45 AM
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