Egypt's powerful military returns to 'political fray'

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 09, 2012 11:01 hrs

Washington: Egypt's powerful military, sidelined after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was elected, edged back into a political fray boiling over with tensions between secular forces and a government determined to pass a constitution enshrining a central role for religion.

A military statement warning of 'disastrous' consequences if the standoff continued was widely interpreted, as pushing Morsi to compromise and meet the opposition halfway over a draft constitution and the near-absolute powers he gave himself.

According to Fox News, Egypt's military, which had been the nation's de facto ruler since army officers seized power in a 1952 coup, remains the country's most powerful institution.

But it has kept a low profile since Morsi ordered the retirement of its top two officers in August and canceled a constitutional declaration that gave it legislative powers when parliament's law-making chamber was dissolved by a court ruling, the report said.

The carefully worded statement appeared designed in part to show the military's growing impatience with the deepening political crisis pitting Morsi and his Islamist supporters against secular and liberal forces, including minority Christians, the report added.

It said that dialogue was the "best and only" way to overcome the nation's deepening conflict.

"Anything other than that (dialogue) will force us into a dark tunnel with disastrous consequences; something that we won't allow," it warned.

"Failing to reach a consensus," is in the interest of neither side, it said, adding: "The nation as a whole will pay the price."

Following its return to the barracks in June after a 16-month stint leading the country after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, the military has been busy cleaning up its image and focusing on its core task.

Whether the military wants to return to the messy business of running a nation torn by divisions and beset by political turmoil and chronic economic woes may be doubtful, the report said.

However, many, in view of Saturday's statement, see the possibility of a limited and temporary intervention to save the country from civil strife if the need arises, the report added. (ANI)

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