Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 2 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (3 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   1 comment

OpEdNews Op Eds

Egypt: Demonstrators Push to Reverse Army's Power Grab.

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 11/19/11

Become a Fan
  (11 fans)

As the date approaches for Egypt's first "free" elections in thirty years, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the iconic Tahrir Square Friday to demand that the Army back off its proposal to give itself perpetual veto power over a new constitution and continued freedom from public scrutiny.


Beginning sit in at Tahrir Square 

Beginning sit in at Tahrir Square  Hundreds of thousands of protesters  descended on Tahrir Square Friday to call for one principal demand: an end to military rule and a swift transfer of power to an elected president by April 2012 .

flickr image By lokha Lorenz Khazaleh

Egyptians will go to the polls on November 28 for the first of three rounds of Parliamentary elections. These will be followed early next year by the nation's first "free" presidential election. In the past, until 2005, under the Mubarak regime, both parliamentary and presidential elections were tightly restricted to candidates from only one political party - Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP), and universally criticized for widespread fraud and voter intimidation.

In 2005, then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cancelled a trip to Egypt scheduled for the following week because of Egypt's arrest and imprisonment of a leading candidate, Ayman Nour of the "Tomorrow" party. He was released in time to run for president in the election of 2005, where he gained slightly more than seven per cent of the vote. That was the first year that Egypt ever ran a multi-party election, after considerable pressure from the US and other countries. Nour was then not released from prison until 2009.

Since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February, Egypt has been ruled by the Army, through the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), a group of generals, plus a civilian government they appointed. The wide array of groups and parties that sparked the February revolution have been highly critical of the SCAF and its civilian puppets for a host of what they consider retrograde and anti-democratic actions.

These include dragging their feet on reforms such as lifting the so-called "emergency laws" that give the authorities license to arrest without cause, try civilians before military courts and convict and sentence defendants without lawyers or sufficient time to prepare adequate defenses. Some 12,000 people have been charged under military rules since the revolution began. The army's military police have been criticized by most political actors for continuing the prisoner torture policies of the Mubarak regime.

Criticism of the armed forces is a crime under Egyptian law. It is being enforced by the SCAF and numerous journalists and bloggers have been tried before military courts and jailed for substantial prison terms under this Mubarak-era law.

Following the Parliamentary elections, a committee of Parliament will draft a new Constitution. Through its civilian government, the Army has recently proposed that a number of "supra-Constitutional" measures be adopted. SCAF wants the military's budget shielded from scrutiny by Parliament and the public and SCAF to have veto-power over all military-related matters in the Constitution.

According to Agence France Presse (AFP), the Muslim Brotherhood and numerous other groups of various political persuasions spearheaded Friday's Tahrir Square protests, united by the conviction that the military must transfer power to a civilian government as soon as possible.

The contested "extra Constitutional" document, presented by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Silmi, drew fire from virtually every quarter. He responded: "The army is the only guardian of Egypt at this difficult time.  Even if we disagree with some of their actions, it can be resolved through discussions and not through pressuring and threatening the military. Egypt, in some cases, is no more than masses and crowds."

The Muslim Brotherhood, through its Freedom and Justice Party, may emerge as the largest bloc in the election, the first since the fall of Mubarak. In the 2005 election, the Brotherhood, though officially banned by the government as a political party, won about 20 per cent of the votes for parliament. Their candidates ran as "independents."

The SCAF, which took charge after Mubarak's ouster and suspended the
Constitution and parliament, says it will hand over power once a new president is elected. Parliamentary elections will start on November 28 and are expected to end in March.
 
AFP reports that "chants were heard in Cairo and Alexandria comparing Chief Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the current head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), to ousted President Hosni Mubarak."

In addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, the majority political parties are participating in criticism of the SCAF. These include the April 6 Youth Movement, Salafi parties and many liberal and pro-democratic groups.

Marches have also been held from Tahrir to the Maspero (government) television station demanding investigations into the killing over more than 25 Coptic demonstrators last month. Coptic Christians, who comprise about ten per cent of Egypt's 80 million people, have long complained of being discriminated against by Egypt's Sunni government and majority Sunni population.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

http://billfisher.blogspot.com

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Silence of the Sheep

Liberties Lost Since 9/11

Law Professors Outraged by Senate Vote on Indefinite Detention

BAHRAIN: UNION LEADERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

Feel Safer Now?

The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable -- A Must-Read.

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

The youth of Egypt are well aware that if the arm... by Adnan Al-Daini on Monday, Nov 21, 2011 at 5:04:56 AM