Presidential hopeful warns about ‘calls to disgrace’ armed forces

Presidential hopeful Mohamed Selim al-Awa on Tuesday warned about what he described as "calls to disgrace the armed forces," a veiled reference to the ongoing mobilization of revolutionary groups ahead of protests planned for next week to commemorate the start of the 25 January revolution.

Awa told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that disgracing the armed forces is an insult to the state.

Revolutionary groups plan to protest next week to demand Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) hand over power to a civilian government.

Awa acknowledged that the SCAF has made mistakes during its management of the transitional phase, attributing them to the council's "disturbing lack of political experience."

He refused to discuss the possibility of "a safe exit" for the military, saying that the option is for "those who have caused harm," which he said the military has not done.

Awa said the revolutionaries have not organized themselves well and that dozens of coalitions cannot carry out an entire revolution by themselves. He also criticized what he called their "claim to ownership of the revolution."

"The revolution was not organized by anyone … and after it succeeded, each group claimed to have organized it," Awa said. "Interest in the revolution does not entail the destruction of the country or dismantlement of the army."

Awa said he believed the Muslim Brotherhood's support for any presidential hopeful would increase the candidate's chances, but not guarantee success. He added that he will not ask for support from any major parties or movements, and will instead leave the decision to voters.

The Islamist presidential hopeful also stressed the importance of strong relations with Saudi Arabia. He called on Hussein Tantawi, head of the SCAF, to organize a "state visit" to the country.

Countries such as Israel "do not want relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia to evolve," Awa said.

Awa said if he is elected president, he would not see any harm in meeting with Israeli officials if necessary.

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