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CAIRO (Reuters) - Foreign groups are meddling in Egypt and stirring up unrest, Egypt's army chief said on Wednesday, days after protesters marched to the defence ministry to urge their military rulers to speed up reforms.
"There are foreign players who feed and set up specific projects that some individuals carry out domestically, without understanding," Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council said in an address to officers.
"It is possible that there is lack of understanding, that foreign players are pushing the people into inappropriate directions," Tantawi said, adding that such foreign parties "did not want stability for Egypt."
Scores of people were injured during Saturday's march in Cairo when thousands of demonstrators fought opponents hurling stones and firebombs. Military police, armed with Tasers and batons, fired in the air to stop the demonstrators from approaching the defence ministry but did little to intervene in the clashes.
Tantawi, who has faced calls from activists to step down, said the armed forces did not intervene with the protesters in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's uprising, or in Abbasiya Square, the scene of Saturday's clashes.
"It was the people who intervened and confronted this," he said, stressing that "the armed forces have protected the revolution".
Tantawi said the army was committed to handing power to civilian rule and pledged free and fair elections. A parliament vote is set to take place in November and presidential poll next year.