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CAIRO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The army said on Monday it would not use force against Egyptians staging protests demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down, a statement said.
It said "freedom of expression" was guaranteed to all citizens using peaceful means.
It was the first such explicit confirmation by the army that it would not fire at demonstrators who have taken to the streets of Egypt since last week to try to force Mubarak to quit.
"The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people," the army statement said.
"Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."
It urged people not resort to acts of sabotage that violate security and destroy public and private property. It warned that it would not allow outlaws and to loot, attack and "terrorise citizens". (Writing by Samia Nakhoul, Editing by Alison Williams)