x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Egypt headed towards collapse: defence minister

General Al Sissi says the economic, political and social challenges facing Egypt represented 'a real threat to the security of Egypt and the cohesiveness of the Egyptian state'.

A protester stands in front of a burning police vehicle after it was seized on the Kasr Elnile bridge in Cairo on Monday night. Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters
A protester stands in front of a burning police vehicle after it was seized on the Kasr Elnile bridge in Cairo on Monday night. Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

CAIRO // The Egyptian defence minister warned today that the political crisis rocking Egypt could end in the collapse of the state.

"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," General Abdel Fattah Al Sissi said on his Facebook page.

Protesters defied a curfew in towns along the Suez Canal overnight, attacking police stations after President Mohammed Morsi imposed emergency rule to end days of clashes that have killed at least 52 people.

Gen Al Sissi said the economic, political and social challenges facing Egypt represented "a real threat to the security of Egypt and the cohesiveness of the Egyptian state" and the army would remain "the solid and cohesive block" on which the state rests.

The army, he said, belonged to all Egyptians regardless of their sect or political affiliation.

"The continuation of the struggle of the different political forces ... over the management of state affairs could lead to the collapse of the state," he said.

"The army's deployment in Port Said and Suez provinces aims to protect the vital strategic interests of the state, at the forefront of which is the vital Suez Canal," he said, adding the army would not allow the canal to be harmed.

The military assumed power from deposed president Hosni Mubarak at the height of the uprising against him in 2011 before leading the state through an interim period that formally ended with Mr Morsi's election win in June. * Reporting by Reuters and Agence France-Presse