Egyptian Army Says Holding Power Is a ‘Curse’ It Can’t Escape
Egypt’s army said ceding power would mean abandoning the country, and urged activists to switch their focus to next week’s election after a fifth night of clashes between police and protesters demanding the generals step down.
Holding power is a “curse, not a blessing,” yet most Egyptians retain “absolute confidence” in the army, Mukhtar El Moula, a member of the ruling military council, said at a press conference in Cairo today. Voting will start on schedule on Nov. 28, with the army helping police to ensure security, and a new government should be in place by then, he said.
The violence in Cairo and other cities including Alexandria has left at least 38 people dead in the past week, state-run Nile News said today. It threatens to derail the parliamentary election and undermine government attempts to secure financing for an economy still struggling to recover from the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February.
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service today cut Egypt’s credit rating to B+, four steps below investment grade. It cited renewed violence amid a “highly polarized political landscape” that has weakened public finances and will lead to further declines in international reserves. An auction of local debt today raised less than half the target amount while yields surged to record levels.
The army council’s chief, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, promised on Nov. 22 to replace the current Cabinet and hold presidential elections by the end of June that will complete the transfer of power to civilians.
El Moula said today that the army hasn’t fired at the protesters who have occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square for the past week, and instead acted to break up clashes between them and police. Outside Tahrir, life in Egypt is “normal,” he said.