The head of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on Sunday defended his testimony in the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak.
"We weren’t asked to fire at protesters and we’d never do it," Tantawi said during a visit to the province of Fayoum, north of Cairo, where he attended the inauguration of three petrochemical plants.
On 24 September, Tantawi gave his account in a closed session of the trial of the toppled president, who is facing charges of ordering the murder of pro-democracy protesters during the January uprising that forced him to resign in February.
Though the court had imposed a ban on media coverage of the session, leaked reports hinted that Tantawi's testimony came in Mubarak's favor.
The armed forces' primary mission is to defend the country against foreign threats, the field marshal said during the visit. He also slammed the rising tide of labor strikes that he said brought the tourist industry to a halt.
Tantawi also urged Egyptians to unite with the armed forces to overcome the present difficulties.
The SCAF head provoked a wave of controversy on Monday walking through downtown Cairo without his guards and dressed in plain clothes. Political activists wary of expanding military power said Tantawi might be trying to win popularity in the street as a potential presidential hopeful.
Many of Egypt’s political forces have rejected the idea of a military president, pressing the SCAF to swiftly hand over power to a civilian government.
Translated from the Arabic Edition