Muslim Brotherhood supporters protest in fron
Muslim Brotherhood supporters protest in fronAFP photo

The Egyptian army on Thursday gave the Muslim Brotherhood until Saturday afternoon to sign up for political reconciliation, according to a military-linked website.

“We will not initiate any move, but will definitely react harshly against any calls for violence or black terrorism from Brotherhood leaders or their supporters. We pledge to protect peaceful protesters regardless of their affiliation,” the statement said, according to Al Arabiya.

The statement added that military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi issued the ultimatum in a Wednesday speech in which he called for all Egyptians “to return to the national fold and prepare for the future.”

The 48-hour deadline also comes after Sissi called for mass rallies on Friday to give him a “mandate” to fight what he called “terrorism and violence.” Islamist supporters of Morsi have also scheduled some 34 protest marches through Cairo on Friday.

The statement appeared on an unofficial Facebook account with ties to the top council of military generals, reported Al Arabiya.

A senior army official told the AFP news agency on Thursday that the statement did not reflect the military’s point of view, although it appeared on a “page with links to the armed forces.”

“The 48-hour ultimatum is a political invitation,” the officer said. “It doesn’t mean that after 48 hours we are going to crack down.”

After the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood politician, on July 3, an interim administration was installed. A roadmap for a new political transition leading to parliamentary elections in about six months has been announced.

On Wednesday, fresh arrest warrants were issued for nine Muslim Brotherhood officials in Egypt, including leader Mohammed Badie.

General prosecutor Hisham Barakat ordered the leaders' arrests for "ordering armed groups to cut off highways and threaten violence in the city of Qalyub, spreading violence and damaging public interest.”