Egypt’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for nationwide rallies to give the military a mandate to confront what he termed violence and terrorism following the removal of President Mohamed Morsi.
In a speech on Wednesday at a military graduation ceremony, Sisi called for the protests to be held on Friday, and denied accusations that he had betrayed Morsi.
“I ask … that next [upcoming] Friday all honest and trustworthy Egyptians must come out,” Sisi said in remarks broadcast live by state media. “Why come out? They come out to give me the mandate and order that I confront violence and potential terrorism.”
His speech came hours after a bomb at a police station killed a conscript, according to the interior ministry.
He said his appeal for protests was not a call for violence and expressed support for efforts for national reconciliation.
The Muslim Brotherhood reacted quickly, with senior member Essam al-Erian issuing a statement directed at Sisi saying: “Your threat will not prevent millions to rally against coup … You have been always in your office conspiring.”
Tension has intensified in Egypt since the military ouster of Morsi who is held in an undisclosed location.