CAIRO – Moving to dispel suggestions that they are maneuvering to stay in power, Egypt’s military leaders on Thursday reaffirmed their promise to hand authority to a new president no later than June 30.
“Since last November we have been repeating in every possible occasion that (the army) is committed to handing over power,” Gen. Adel Aasar, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, said at a news conference.
“We are not seeking power,” he added. “SCAF is not a substitute for legitimate authority.”
The military, which has been ruling the country since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power last year, has been accused of fabricating crises to prolong the transition to democracy. Such charges escalated Wednesday when 11 people were killed and about 200 injured in clashes between anti-military protesters and unidentified attackers near Egypt’s Defense Ministry in Cairo.
Aasar said the military council was “sorry for the events” and called on political and religious leaders to persuade demonstrators to abandon the area around the ministry to avoid further violence. Aasar blamed unnamed local and “foreign sides” of instigating unrest ahead of presidential election on May 23.