Protesters back in Tahrir Square over presidential result

Wed, Jun 20, 2012, 01:00

THOUSANDS OF cheerful Egyptians waving national flags flocked to Cairo’s Tahrir Square last night to condemn the “coup d’etat” mounted by the military against the country’s post-uprising president and parliament.

They came walking across the broad Nile bridges, by bus and by metro, and by horse-drawn carriage. The majority of women wore headscarves, many of the men were bearded; children carried placards bearing the portrait of Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohamed Morsy.

Protesters shouted: “Down with military rule. Speak up, don’t be afraid . . . ”

A phalanx of women marching behind a cheerleader chanted: “Allahu Akbar! God is Great!” Three skinny lads in T-shirts sang softly.

The rally, called by the Muslim Brotherhood, the liberal April 6th movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and trades unions, was one of the largest this year but did not attract the hundreds of thousands who staged the 2011 revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The demonstration coincided with the increasingly bitter dispute between Mr Morsy and former air force commander Ahmed Shafik over the outcome of last weekend’s run-off presidential election.

The Shafik campaign has laid claim to the presidency while the Morsy camp, which declared victory early on Monday, has offered documentary proof of its triumph.

The electoral commission denied it released any results, which are due to be published tomorrow, but the state-owned al- Ahram daily said on its website that Mr Morsy had won 51 per cent of the vote, while Mr Shafik took 49 per cent.

If Mr Morsy is confirmed, he will be Egypt’s first civilian and first fundamentalist president.

In preparation for this possibility, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has reimposed martial law, dissolved the Muslim fundamentalist-dominated legislature, taken control of the state budget and has appointed a general to supervise the executive’s administrative and financial affairs.

This drive appears to have demonstrated the military’s determination to hang on to power.

Supreme Council adviser Sameh Ashour even suggested that the new president could serve only until a new constitution was written and approved and a new lower house of parliament elected.

The Revolutionary Youth Coalition has accused the military of reneging on its pledge to hand over power to a civilian parliament and president.

In a bid to resist the putsch by the military, the 100-member panel appointed by the dissolved parliament to draw up a new constitution has convened and elected Hossam El-Ghariani, a highly respected judge, as its head.

There is speculation that this body could also be dismissed as it was appointed by the dissolved legislature. The Supreme Council has declared its intention to veto constitutional provisions it does not like.

Meanwhile, a major blow-up between the Brotherhood and the regime was averted when an administrative court postponed until September a case lodged by lawyer Shehata Mohamed Shehata for the dissolution of the 84- year-old movement, banned in 1954 but tolerated.

Both the US and France have expressed concern over steps taken by the military to marginalise the Brotherhood and consolidate its power.