Cairo - An Egyptian presidential spokesperson on Monday dismissed an apparent threat by the military to both Egypt's president and opposition that it would step in if political fighting descends into chaos.
The spokesperson, Ihab Fahmy, told foreign reporters that the military's mission is guarding the borders and securing vital institutions, and that it has no intention to play any other role.
"There is a president ruling the country in a democratic way, and [through] democratic elections. We can't imagine that the army would come back," Fahmy said. "The army has one role - protecting the borders and securing the strategic institutions. There is no political role for the army."
His remarks came a day after Defence Minister General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gave the nation's Islamist rulers and their opponents a week to reach an understanding before planned 30 June opposition protests demanding the resignation of President Mohammed Morsi. El-Sissi issued a toughly worded warning that the military will intervene to stop the nation from entering a "dark tunnel".
El-Sissi's statement indicated to Morsi's hard-line backers that the military will step in if protesters are attacked during their demonstrations.
30 June marks one year since Morsi took office. Opponents charge that Morsi is monopolising power for his Muslim Brotherhood, excluding others, while failing to make progress toward solving the country's critical problems, like economic malaise, fuel shortages, electricity blackouts and increasing unemployment. They demand that he step down and hold early presidential elections.
Fahmy said that el-Sissi's message, like any other statements from the military, comes in coordination with the presidency.
"These statements were intended to defuse tension," he said. "President Morsi is the supreme commander of the army, and anything that happens within the army is coordinated through him and with him."
He said that Morsi extended an open-ended invitation for dialogue with opposition.
Morsi's supporters charge the opposition has shunned his offers to talk and now are turning to force to remove him, because they have been unable to compete at the ballot box.