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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's army-backed authorities have decided to annul the Muslim Brotherhood's non-governmental organization, an official said on Friday, widening a drive to neutralize the movement behind deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.
The move applies to the non-governmental organization registered by the Brotherhood in March, and stems from accusations that it used its premises to store weapons and explosives. The decision has yet to be formally announced, the official said..
The army-backed government is waging the toughest crackdown in decades on the Islamist group, which says it has a million members. Security forces have killed hundreds of its supporters and rounded up thousands more since Mursi was deposed by the army on July 3 after mass protests against him.
Although short of a ban, dissolving the NGO will strip the Brotherhood of a defense against challenges to its legality. Egypt's then army rulers formally dissolved the Brotherhood in 1954.
Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed el-Boraie has now decided to dissolve the Brotherhood's NGO, ministry spokesman Hany Mahana said. The move will be announced once the minister returned from an overseas trip.
"Dr. el-Boraie has decided to dissolve the organization. The decree has not been issued yet," he said.
The General Federation of NGOs wrote to the ministry on Thursday consenting to the dissolution of the Brotherhood NGO after its leaders missed a deadline to answer the accusations.
These relate to violence that erupted after Mursi was deposed, when armed men were seen firing on protesters outside the Brotherhood's headquarters in Cairo. The government has accused the Brotherhood of mounting a campaign of violence - a charge the group decries as an excuse for the crackdown.
"They were notified three consecutive times and none of them attended and so, according to the law, the minister of social solidarity can dissolve the NGO," Mahana said. "The decision is effective with the end of the legal time frame, so the decision is taken and what remains is writing the legal memorandum."
The Brotherhood won parliamentary and presidential elections after veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011. There has so far been no attempt to ban its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party.
Though formally outlawed under Mubarak, the Brotherhood was grudgingly tolerated for much of his presidency, taking part in parliamentary elections and operating a charity network that helped to it to become Egypt's biggest political party.
(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Angus MacSwan)