05/06/2014, 00.00
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General al-Sisi promises to "finish" Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

In his first television interview as a presidential candidate, the former army chief said he was not running for the military, pledges stability and security, as well as tolerance for the opposition. However, pro-democracy democratic groups criticise his policy of suppressing the dissent.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Egypt's former army chief and leading presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged that if he was elected the Muslim Brotherhood movement was "finished" in Egypt and would not return.

The retired army officer, who last July ousted and jailed former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, said he survived two assassination attempts, without giving details.

The retired field marshal, dressed in a suit and appearing composed, spoke in what was the first part of the interview broadcast yesterday. The second part will be run today.

Al-Sisi denied he had any political ambitions when he ousted President Morsi, following massive demonstrations of nearly 30 million people calling for his ouster.

Speaking about the Muslim Brotherhood, he went on to say, "I want to tell you that it is not me that finished it. You, the Egyptians, are the ones who finished it". Now, "There'll be nothing called the Muslim Brotherhood during my presidential period".

Instead, he pledged to make stability and security his priorities, and that he would not increase the army's influence over politics.

Al-Sisi enjoys great support among ordinary Egyptians who see him as a strong leader, capable of stabilising the country and the economy after a series of protests and political violence that followed the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Nevertheless, pro-democracy groups, which led the Arab Spring, have increasingly protested against the interim government, accusing it of restricting freedom whilst giving police a free hand to crush dissent. Last month for example, an Egyptian court even banned the 6 April youth movement, which had spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt.

Al-Sisi, who is widely expected to win, said that he would tolerate criticism and opposition if he wins, though "we have to avoid attacking each other."

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