Egypt's former army chief and leading presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed leader Mohammed Mursi was "finished" in Egypt and that it would not return if he was elected.
Following the Sisi-led army ouster of Mursi in July, the Brotherhood has been banned, its leaders arrested and more than 1,400 people, mostly Islamist backers of Mursi, killed in clashes.
"I did not finish it. You Egyptians finished it," Sisi said on Monday in his first television interview since announcing his candidacy when asked if the Brotherhood was "finished".
Asked if he were saying it would not exist under his presidency, he responded: "Yes." Sisi's remarks ruled out any chances of any kind of reconciliation with the blacklisted Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
Sisi, dressed in a suit and appearing composed and often smiling, said Egyptians had rejected the group's ideology and would not allow it to return. The retired field marshal also said that if he was elected the army would "not have a role in ruling Egypt", adding that he was not a candidate of the army.
Aside from Mursi, all of Egypt's previous presidents have come from military ranks, including Mubarak, who was toppled following a popular 18-day uprising in early 2011.
Sisi's only rival in the upcoming election is leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi, who has often raised concerns that Egypt was returning to the autocratic era witnessed under Mubarak.
These concerns grew after some leading symbols of the anti-Mubarak revolt were jailed by the interim authorities for organising unlicensed protests.
Last month, an Egyptian court even banned the April 6 youth movement, which had spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt.