Over 10,000 Egyptians gathered in central Cairo to support a law that would put a ten-year ban on Mubarak-era officials running for office. The Islamist-dominated rally comes just over a month before the presidential poll.
The rally, called “Protecting the Revolution,” was the first major demonstration in months and was largely aimed against Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence chief under President Mubarak, who recently announced his intention to run for president.
“If Omar Suleiman became president, it would turn to a pool of blood, and people would stay in the square for 10 years,” AP quoted a protester as saying. Some dubbed Suleiman “another Mubarak.”
Banners also depicted Suleiman as the Zionist candidate, as Egypt under Mubarak was considered to be one of the most Israel-friendly Arab countries.
But Suleiman wasn’t the only candidate to come under attack. Demonstrators also held portraits of the crossed-out face of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. Shafiq has also announced his intention to seek the presidency.
Protesters also wrote “The people want to oust the remnants,” in reference to Mubarak-era officials, on a coffin that was carried through the crowd.
And the ruling Military Council also came under fire, despite cordial relations with the Islamists after their victory in legislative elections. One of the slogans chanted was “The people want to bring down the field marshal,” a direct reference to Field Marshall Ahmed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Military Council and the country’s provisional head of state.
The rally was held only a day after the Islamist-dominated parliament adopted a law banning officials that served under Mubarak from running for office in the next ten years. However, the law has yet to be ratified by the Military Council. The law also doesn’t concern former ministers, and would therefore not bar liberal Amr Moussa, the country’s former Foreign Minister, from the presidency.
Egypt is set to hold its first presidential poll after the ouster of Mubarak in May; a runoff is also slated for June. The country’s legislative elections, held over a period of three months, resulted in a victory by the religious Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafists’ Al-Nour (The Light).
Relations between the Islamists and the liberals, once allies in the struggle against the Mubarak regime, have grown tense in recent days. Some youth activists accused the Muslim Brotherhood of siding and compromising with the Military Council, which both the liberals and Islamists previously blamed for violent crackdowns and other violations. The two groups were also at odds with one another over the composition of the 100-member panel set to write the country’s new constitution, after Islamists tried to pack it with their members. A Cairo court later suspended the panel, saying the manner of its formation breached constitutional guidelines.
Maged Botros, Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Helwan University, believes the recently adopted legislation is bound to be overturned by Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court.
“I believe that this law is going to be abolished for a very simple reason: it violates all rules and all principles in the Constitutional declaration, stipulating the conditions under which the presidential elections take place,” Botros told RT.
He also noted that despite the massive rally, the Muslim Brotherhood has actually lost popularity.
“As a matter of fact, the Muslim Brotherhood has lost a lot of its popular ground in Egypt because people do not believe what they say now,” he said.
Botros pointed to the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has violated all its pledges: not to file a candidate for the presidential election, and limiting the percentage of seats it was competing for to 30.
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