Egyptians rail against Mubarak verdict

Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 01:00

TENS OF thousands of Egyptians have massed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and on the streets and squares of Alexandria, Suez, Zagazig and Mansoura to protest at the hijacking of the popular uprising in early 2011.

In the capital yesterday marchers converged on Tahrir.

They were led by presidential candidates eliminated in the first round last month: moderate Muslim fundamentalist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fattouh and leftists Hamdeen Sabbahi and Khaled Ali, while Muslim Brotherhood members were led by Mohamed Morsi, who is set to stand for the presidency against the military’s Ahmad Shafiq in the election’s second round on June 16th-17th.

The brotherhood sought to demonstrate its revolutionary credentials to sceptical Egyptians who regard it as part of the old order.

Demonstrators demanded retrials for ousted president Hosni Mubarak and senior security officials accused of ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising.

Revolutionaries were furious when Mubarak was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, not for murder but on the lesser charge of failing to prevent the slaughter of nearly 1,000 protesters. Six senior members of the security apparatus that carried out the crackdown were acquitted.

Participants in the mass action demanded implementation of the law barring members of the former regime from standing for political office. If acted upon the measure would eliminate Mr Shafiq.

Demonstrators also called for the handover by the generals to a presidential council comprising revolutionary figures, and the scrapping of the run-off in the presidential election.

The council would consist of the three ex-candidates involved in the Tahrir rally and Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who dropped out of the presidential race.

Mr Morsi, who was invited to join the council, has refused because he expects to win the contest and take the presidency with- out sharing power with liberals who disagree with the brotherhood’s agenda.

The proposal for such a council has been on the table since Mubarak’s fall from power in February 2011 and it is not expected that the military will reconsider its strategy for handing over to the newly elected president at the end of this month. It is also unlikely that the constitutional court will disqualify Mr Shafiq.

However, the generals could try to mollify the public by pressing the judiciary to retry Mubarak, his sons, and the acquitted and freed senior security officials.