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 urge all Egyptians to rally next Friday to give me an order to face possible violence and terrorism,” he said. “I did not betray the former president… I warned [him] that his religious project is impossible to achieve.”
Sisi also vowed to stick to a political roadmap that laid the way for a reform of the constitution and new elections within some six months.
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.”
The army chief’s speech came ahead of proposed “national reconciliation” sessions called for by the interim leader Adly Mansour, and followed renewed violence in and outside the capital Cairo, in which at least three people died.
Sisi offered condolences to the families of victims killed in such violence, which has been seen as recently as Wednesday morning.
Unknown gunmen who shot at Morsi supporters in Cairo killed at least two people, witnesses and health officials confirmed, adding to a death toll of more than 100 people since the president was removed by the military on July 3.
In a separate development on the same day, a bomb exploded at a police station in a province north of Cairo, killing one conscript, and wounding more than 15 people health officials said.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood has said it will boycott Mansour’s reconciliation talks.
A senior member of Al-Nour, Egypt’s most powerful Salafi party, told Al Jazeera that it will also not be attending.
“The Muslim Brotherhood rejected an invite to Wednesday’s national reconciliation meeting. For them, the legitimate president of Egypt is Mohamed Morsi,” said Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba in Cairo.
Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, tweeted a warning against the talks.
“Military coup government failed to stop bloodshed and detains tens of peaceful protestors every day and besieges media and closes its channel. Which reconciliation are you calling for?” he wrote.
Earlier this week, Mansour renewed appeals for reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We want to turn a new page in the country’s book with no hatred, no malice, no division,” he said in a pre-recorded speech that also highlighted the importance of the army in Egypt’s history.