Egypt's military rulers defy protesters


EGYPT’S MILITARY rulers responded defiantly to yesterday’s rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square by tens of thousands of citizens of all political persuasions protesting the dissolution of parliament, reimposition of martial law and delay in announcing the result of last weekend’s presidential poll.

Flag-waving protesters chanting “Down with military rule” sheltered from the searing sun beneath umbrellas, newspapers and broad-brimmed hats.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) rebuffed these demands and blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for raising tensions in the country by proclaiming the victory of its candidate, Mohamed Morsy, a claim rejected by his rival former premier, Ahmed Shafik, who has the backing of the military. The SCAF said the army and police would combat unrest and attacks on public buildings following the announcement of the winner.

The result was scheduled to be announced on Thursday but that was postponed until judges review 400 complaints of irregularities.

Government officials told Ahram Online yesterday that tomorrow the election commission would proclaim Mr Shafik’s victory with 50.7 per cent of the vote, although the Morsy camp argues he won 52 per cent against Mr Shafik’s 48 per cent. Ahram Online could not substantiate this leak and speculated it could be “another shot in the ongoing campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood” orchestrated by the military, official media and remnants of the ousted regime.

Sheikh Mazar Shaheen, known as the preacher of the revolution, warned during the demonstration that attempts to falsify the result would be met by mass action.

Following discussions with a wide range of political activists, Mr Morsy promised to protest until the results are released and pledged that if he assumes the presidency his deputy, prime minister and ministers would be chosen from parties other than the Brotherhood and include Christians and women. He rejected the military’s drive to circumscribe the powers of the president but left the door open to reconciliation with the generals.

Many secularists and revolutionaries do not trust the Brotherhood, arguing that it failed to join the 2011 uprising at its outset and courted the military until the run-up to the presidential poll.

The fundamentalist-dominated parliament was dissolved and the generals extended their control over the drafting of the new constitution. These moves countered the Brotherhood’s own power grab.