Frustrations with Egypt's military Rulers Grow
By Amir Ahmed
September 29, 2011
A coalition of 60 political parties and groups—including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood—are threatening to boycott Egypt's parliamentary elections set to start in November unless the country's military rulers meet specific demands by Sunday, a statement from the so-called Democratic Coalition said late Wednesday.
The demands presented to Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces include scrapping the country's emergency law, which is believed to have been used as a tool to suppress dissent under the rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Other demands include amending parliamentary election rules, holding the presidential election immediately after parliamentary voting, enforcing a law that prevents Mubarak supporters from running for political offices for a number of years, and handing authority to a civilian government by mid-2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also put pressure on the Egyptian government as she met in Washington with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr on Wednesday.
"We have encouraged and continued to encourage the government to lift the state of emergency," said Clinton. "The Supreme Council has said that it will be in a position to do so in 2012. We hope to see the law lifted sooner than that."
Meanwhile, many activists are going ahead with a "million-man march" at Cairo's Tahrir square on Friday to highlight the same demands presented by the Democratic Coalition.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party—one of the country's most organized political forces—said it will not join the planned protests until Sunday to see how the military rulers will respond to the warning.
Dissatisfaction with the top military council has increased since it re-instated the emergency law following an attack on the Israeli embassy in Giza earlier this month. Local media outlets have become bolder in blaming the council for lack of democratic progress in the country since Mubarak was ousted on February 11.
And a recently released amateur video showing military personnel apparently joining police in torturing suspects has only fueled frustrations with the military rulers.
The video purports to show men in military fatigues and uniformed police special forces uniforms hitting and electrically shocking two suspects during questioning. CNN cannot verify the authenticity of the video.
According to Egypt's state-run news agency MENA, head of the military, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday ordered an investigation into the incident.
Voting in Egypt's first elections since the ouster of Mubarak is expected to begin in November 28, a week later than previously announced, the ruling Supreme Council said Tuesday.
The elections will take place in three stages across different districts, the council said.
As part of their demands, political parties want the council to approve a "treason law" first issued in the 1950s to fight political corruption, hoping that it will stop Mubarak supporters from running for office in the parliamentary and presidential elections.