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Egypt's Sisi won't assuage rift with the Brotherhood

By Agencies in Cairo (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-07 07:13

Egyptian presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared to rule out reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood movement on Monday, raising the specter of a prolonged conflict with a group he said was finished.

Sisi, who ousted the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi from the presidency last July after mass protests against Morsi's rule, accused the Brotherhood of links to violent militant groups, adding that two plots to assassinate him had been uncovered.

"I want to tell you that it is not me that finished (the Brotherhood). You, the Egyptians, are the ones who finished it," Sisi said in a joint interview with Egypt's privately owned CBC and ONTV television channels broadcast on Monday.

Asked whether the Brotherhood would cease to exist during his presidency, Sisi answered: "Yes. That's right."

Sisi is expected to easily win the May 26-27 presidential election. The only other candidate is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 election won by Morsi.

Sisi's supporters view him as a decisive figure who can stabilize a country plagued by street protests and political violence since a popular uprising toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The Brotherhood, which says it is committed to peaceful activism, has accused Sisi of staging a coup and masterminding the removal of Morsi.

Egypt's Sisi won't assuage rift with the Brotherhood

Sisi said the Brotherhood's ideology was based on "arrogance in religion" - and the presence of that strain of thought had destabilized Egyptian society for decades.

"The thought structure of these groups says that we are not true Muslims, and they believed conflict was inevitable because they consider us non-believers," he said. "It will not work for there to be such thinking again."

Terrorism allegations

An Islamist militant insurgency has been growing since Morsi's overthrow. Islamist militants have killed several hundred members of the security forces in bombings and shootings. The interior minister survived an attempt on his life in September.

Sisi accused the Brotherhood of being behind the campaign of bombings and shootings. He said the movement "created" Islamic militant groups to use as "covers to fight from behind ... to keep the movement away from any accusations."

He said a senior Brotherhood leader had warned him that if he removed Morsi, extremist fighters from Afghanistan and elsewhere would come to Egypt to fight.

The Brotherhood denies any connection to militants.

Sisi, a head of military intelligence under Mubarak, confirmed rumors that there had been attempts on his life, highlighting the security challenges facing Egypt.

Sisi said there were "two attempts to assassinate me. I believe in fate, I am not afraid."

Brotherhood outlawed

The army-backed authorities have outlawed the Brotherhood, which won all the elections after Mubarak's fall. Thousands of its supporters have been arrested and hundreds killed. Top leaders, including Morsi, are on trial.

A court sentenced the leader of the Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and hundreds of supporters to death last week. Secular dissidents have also been jailed, leaving little organized opposition to the army-backed government.

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