No presidency plans for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition group, has no ambitions to run for the Egyptian presidency, a leading member of the Islamist movement told al-Jazeera television on Friday.

Mohammed al-Beltagi also said government representatives who had invited the Muslim Brotherhood to talks on political reform had indicated that the group, which is formally banned, would receive official recognition as a party.

“We are ready to negotiate after [the end of] the Mubarak regime,” he said, adding that the government was “flirting” with the group.

“We have said clearly that we have no ambitions to run for the presidency, or posts in a coalition government,” he said.

Muslim Brotherhood activists have been taking part in mass protests against President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, but the group says it has had no role in organising the demonstrations.

US: Army pledges not to fire on protesters
Meanwhile, the United States (US) military’s top officer on Thursday said Egyptian army leaders have “reassured” him their forces will not fire on protesters, amid days of anti-government unrest in Cairo.

Admiral Mike Mullen said in a television interview that he was working to keep lines of communication open with the Egyptian military and expressed hope for a peaceful resolution of the crisis gripping the country.

“I mean in the discussions I’ve had with their military leadership, they’ve reassured me that they have no intent to fire on their own people,” Mullen told the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Mullen, who spoke by phone to his Egyptian counterpart on Wednesday General Sami Enan, reiterated his praise for the armed forces, which US officials hope will play a role in steering the country toward democratic reform.

“Their reputation is exceptionally high with the people. The military would say that’s who they’re supporting, the people of Egypt,” he said.

‘Response or support’
Pitched street battles on Wednesday between supporters of President Mubarak and regime opponents left at least five people dead and 836 injured, as President Barack Obama’s administration pressed for Mubarak to step down.

Mullen, chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also said he had been in discussions with other military leaders in the region and said “they are concerned about where this goes and how contagious it is”.

The four-star admiral said the military stood ready for any “response or support” in the crisis.

But his spokesperson later clarified that Mullen was referring to military assistance for a possible large-scale evacuation of American nationals, if requested by the State Department.

“He was referring only to any response or support we might be called upon to support our State Department in terms of assistance with evacuations, etc”, spokesperson Captain John Kirby said in an email.—Sapa-AFP, Reuters


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