(photo credit: REUTERS)
Head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantwai said that the military would not back down from the role it sees for itself in the country's new constitution, Egyptian state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported Sunday.
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The constitutional proposal, which would shield Egypt’s powerful military from parliamentary oversight, sparked protests in Cairo and Alexandria that have been ongoing for over a week and led to the resignation of the country's caretaker government.
“The position of the armed forces will remain as it is," Tantawi told reporters in Cairo. "It will not change in any new constitution."
Protesters gathered again in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday to try to
evict the generals who replaced Hosni Mubarak, in a trial of strength
that has muddied the run-up to Egypt's first vote since a popular revolt
deposed the former leader.
The SCAF leader also addressed parliamentary elections slated to begin Monday, calling on Egyptians to head to the polls "without any worries."
"The elections will begin tomorrow as planned," he said.
Egypt's military, Tantawi added, "will cooperate with the Interior Ministry to secure the whole process," Al-Ahram
parliamentary election is the first step on the ruling military
council's timetable towards a transfer to civilian rule, now promised
But the demonstrators want the council to step aside now in favor of a civilian interim administration and reject its choice of 78-year-old Kamal Ganzouri
to form the next cabinet.
Egyptians yearn for stability after a week of bloodshed that has killed
42 people and wounded over 2,000, preferring for now to let the
generals run a nation whose political turmoil has thrust the economy
deeper into crisis.
quoted Tantawi as saying: "We are at a crossroads. There are only two
routes, the success of elections leading Egypt towards safety or facing
dangerous hurdles that we in the armed forces, as part of the Egyptian
people, will not allow."
Sharaf, among protesters outside parliament, said the objection to
Ganzouri was not his age, but the policies he pursued as prime minister
under Mubarak from 1996 to 1999.
"Two-thirds of the ministers
that Ganzouri appointed in his day are now in Tora prison," he said,
referring to Mubarak-era officials accused of corruption and other
offenses who were put on trial after an uprising swept Mubarak from
power in February.Some protesters favor Mohamed ElBaradei
former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, who has offered to drop his
campaign for the presidency and to lead a government of national unity.
are trying to create a government that represents the revolution and
the people's demands," said protester Hiba Hani. "We have no faith in
Ganzouri or anyone brought in with him."
ElBaradei is respected
among pro-democracy campaigners and has a high international profile,
but many Egyptians view him as out of touch because he spent much of his
There was no sign that the generals would change
course, although the latest unrest has already forced them accelerate
plans to hand over to civilian rule.
Islamist parties banned under Mubarak have been campaigning hard to secure a strong foothold in mainstream politics.
Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said what was important was the
composition and powers of Ganzouri's cabinet, Egypt's fourth this year.
have suffered from three cabinets that had no powers and the end-result
was failure that has been suffered by the Egyptian people," he said
late on Saturday.
Badie suggested conspiratorial hands were at
work in the unrest. "There are powers from inside and outside Egypt that
don't want stability for Egypt or development, and this is something
that is being pushed and paid for," he declared.
The vote due to
start on Monday is billed as Egypt's first free and fair election in
decades, but a confusing array of candidates and parties and fears of
bullying, bribery and violence at polling stations offer voters a
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