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Nov 22, 2011 Comments Off on Egypt’s Protesters Reject Military’s Offer Pat Dollard

Al Jazeera:

Egyptians angry over the slow transition to civilian rule have remained in the streets of the capital and other cities, continuing their protests despite apparent concessions offered by the country’s ruling military council.

Tens of thousands of protesters packed central Cairo’s Tahrir Square late on Tuesday night, shouting “Leave! Leave!”, hours after Field Marshal Muhammed Hussein Tantawi, the chief of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), finished a short speech broadcast on state media.

In scenes reminiscent of the 18-day uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February, the square resonated with chants of “the people want to bring down the field marshal”.

Tantawi promised that the military had no interest in staying in power and said a presidential election to replace the council as the country’s ultimate executive authority would be held before July 2012, the first time Egypt’s military rulers have set a deadline for the presidential vote.

He asserted that parliamentary elections scheduled to start on November 28 would go ahead. He also suggested the possibility of a national referendum on the SCAF’s rule that would return the military to its barracks should citizens vote against the council.

“We ask for fair elections. We are doing our job in a very special era,” he said. “We do not care who runs for elections and who is elected president and yet we are accused of being biased,” he said.

The concessions followed four days of protests against army rule that have left 33 dead, many of them allegedly shot by live ammunition, and nearly 2,000 injured throughout the country.

New York Times:

CAIRO — Egypt careened through another day of crisis with no end in sight as hundreds of thousands of people occupying Tahrir Square jeered at a deal struck on Tuesday by the Muslim Brotherhood and the military that would speed up the transition to civilian rule on a timetable favoring the Islamist movement.

The agreement, which centered on a presidential election by late June, appeared unlikely to extinguish the resurgent protest movement — the largest since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak nine months ago. The crowd roared its disapproval when the deal was announced at 8 p.m., fighting spiked on the avenue leading to the Interior Ministry, and the number of protesters continued to swell.

Unlikely to satisfy the public demands for the military to leave power, the deal may have driven a new wedge into the opposition, reopening a divide between the seething public and the political elite, between liberals and Islamists and, as events unfolded, among the Islamists themselves.

“We refuse it, and the square has refused it already,” said Islam Lotfy, a former leader of the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood who was expelled from the organization with a group of others for starting a centrist political party. “They did not offer anything new. They are just bargaining with the people.”

Just four days ago, the Muslim Brotherhood kicked off a wave of protests against the military’s increasingly explicit attempts to decree for itself special powers and protections under the future constitution. But when a heavyhanded crackdown on demonstrators ignited a far broader and more violent backlash against the military’s power grab, Brotherhood leaders sent mixed signals about whether to join the swelling protests. And while other political groups called for a huge demonstration on Tuesday, the Brotherhood ordered its members to stay away for fear of jeopardizing elections as the violence hit a peak.

The Health Ministry said 31 people died in four days of unrest, and more than 600 were injured on Tuesday alone.