Egypt nearing ‘state collapse’

Telegraph

Egypt is nearing "state collapse", its defence minister and army chief warned in comments widely seen as a threat to re-impose military rule.

Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said failure by politicians to put an end to clashes across the country over the past five days could have "grave repercussions".

"The continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations," he said in a speech at a military academy.

Gen Sissi was appointed defence minister by the Muslim Brotherhood's President Mohammed Morsi, but the Egyptian army remains a strong force in Egypt's political life in its own right. Its intervention echoes a statement it made during the Tahrir Square uprising against ex-President Hosni Mubarak, when it said it would not turn its arms on the people.

On that occasion, its carefully modulated words were seen as abandoning Mr Mubarak to his fate. Liberal activists now fear Mr Morsi and the army will together impose military rule under emergency law provisions, as they have already done in the three Suez Canal cities that have seen the worst of the clashes in the past week.

The last funeral in Port Said, where 40 people died in a weekend of fighting, passed off without major incident.

Violence has also repeatedly scarred the centre of Cairo, spilling out of Tahrir Square. On Monday night, an armed gang entered the foyer of the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel, spraying gunfire and smashing furniture, with staff resorting to using Twitter to appeal for help after the police failed to respond.

Egypt's public prosecutor yesterday warned of a new force on the streets – an anarchist group calling itself the "Black Mask Bloc", whose members have been seen in protests and whose slogan is "chaos against injustice".

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