The National Salvation Front on Monday described the military statement that set a deadline for a political response to nationwide protests as “reflective of all the meanings, guarantees and proof ... asserting that the military can never abandon its duty to protect the people, their history and their future.”
Millions of Egyptians have been taking to the streets since Sunday to demand the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, who protesters say has only led the country to further deterioration and has been invested in expanding the control of his group, the Muslim Brotherhood. In response, the military statement issued an ultimatum to political groups and the ruling regime to answer the people’s demand, or else it would intervene.
The NSF, a loose association of several leftist and liberal parties, commended the military in the statement for its “respect for the foundations of democracy, as well as the will of the people.”
For members of the group, the NSF endorsement of the army is not necessarily equivalent to their call for a military coup.
Speaking to Mada Masr, leading National Salvation Front and Wafd Party figure Essam Shiha describes the military statement as an attempt to “make up for lost time.”
“At first, the military was not behind the idea of a coup against a democratically elected regime,” Shiha explains. “However, following Sunday’s mass protests and the increasing amount of mistakes committed by the ruling party, the military has offered itself as a guardian of democratic transition, and not a political player or potential alternative to the current leadership.”
While the military statement was met by celebrations in Tahrir Square, some warn against the initiative, citing the Supreme Council of Armed Forces’ eighteen-month reign following former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.
However, Shiha says he is confident the military has “learned its lesson” from the SCAF’s failure.
“The military wants to improve its public image following two years of struggle that ended with them handing over power to a regime that has since proven its complete incompetence,” Shiha claims.
Shiha also alludes to the “road map,” or national plan, mentioned by the military in its statement, stating that “it differs in no way from the NSF’s plan, or the Tamarod campaign’s plan ... which both revolve around the formation of a technocratic government to supervise the redrafting of the Constitution as well as the next round of parliamentary and presidential elections.”
An equally cautious statement came out of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, also an NSF member. In its statement, the party wrote that if the military’s plan is to hold early elections, then it welcomes its move to intervene. The party also indicated that it welcomes the army’s comment on not being interested in being part of the political game.
Despite his assurances, Shiha admits that “there has been no direct contact between the military and the NSF,” but continues to cite the wording of the military’s statement as evidence to support his claims.
“It’s only natural to assume that the military’s vision for the future matches that of the youth and the national forces mentioned in the statement itself,” he suggests.
[This article originally appeared on Mada Masr.]