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Egyptian security forces are 'settling score with revolutionaries': Political movements charge

At a press conference Saturday, a coalition of political groups demand early presidential elections and the sacking of the Cabinet over what they believe was premeditated violence against the Ahly Ultras in Port Said

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Saturday 4 Feb 2012
port-said
A police officer (L) takes a photo as fans descend onto the pitch in Egypt's worst football violence (Photo: Reuters)
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Dozens of poltical groups condemned the ruling military council and the current government over the killing of 73 football fans in the Port Said stadium Wednesday night.

The groups accused security forces of facilitating the entrance of infiltrators among fans gathered to watch Al-Masry play Al-Ahly, and of not stepping in to control the crowd when riots erupted immediately after the match.

The groups issued a joint statement at a press conference organised at the liberal El-Shorouk newspaper headquarters in Cairo Saturday afternoon, demanding the newly-elected People's Assembly assume political responsibility over the disaster and take definitive actions to respond to the depth of the crisis.

Signatories to the statement included the Coalition of Revolutionary Forces, the April 6 Movement (Democratic Front), the Revolution Youth Coalition, the Revolution Youth Union, the Kazaboon (Liars) Campaign, the Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic activist group, the Popular Movement for Supporting Al-Azhar, Maspero Media Revolutionaries and the Revolutionary Socialists.

The statement cited Tantawi's speech on 24 January, the eve of the revolution's first anniversary, declaring a partial lift on the state of emergency, with the statement suggesting that the recent spate of violent events, ranging from armed robbery to the deadly football clashes, have been orchestrated to justify continued resort to emergency law in the country.

The signatories also demanded the current government, led by Kamal El-Ganzouri, be discharged over its responsibility for the security failure that facilitated the riots Wednesday night.

"The only entity that has democratic legitimacy in Egypt is the parliament, and it has the right to withdraw confidence from the government. We demand that the People's Assembly, which was elected by over 30 million Egyptians, protect us from a government that is killing us," said Khaled Abdel-Hamid, a member of socialist Popular Alliance Party, a signatory to the statement.

The press conference was held as intermittent violent clashes continue between the police and protesters, sparked Thursday night when thousands of protesters marched on the Ministry of Interior near Tahrir Square, condemning the police for not preventing the football killings.

The same groups who spearheaded the press conference presented an initiative to the People's Assembly less than a week before the football tragedy, asking MPs to call for early presidential elections.

The groups demand the floor be opened for candidacies on 11 February, the first anniversary of Hosni Mubarak's ouster, and that presidential elections be completed within 60 days of that date to prevent the drafting of a new constitution under military rule.

The initiative also demanded that parliament forms a committee to investigate all prior attacks on demonstrations, including attacks after Mubarak's ouster when the military council was in charge of the country.

Political parties who signed the statement included the liberal Egypt Freedom Party founded by MP Amr Hamzawy, the moderate Islamist Al-Wasat Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, and the Egyptian Current Party.

Some 73 football fans, mostly supporters of Al-Ahly, known as the Ultras, were killed Wednesday night after rival Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch at the end of an Egyptian League game between the two teams. The game witnessed tensions from the opening minute and lacklustre security, according to many eyewitnesses.

According to the Egyptian Ministry of Health, the death toll in clashes that broke out on Thursday between thousands of protesters and police in a number of Egyptian cities, expressing popular anger over the Port Said massacre, rose to 12 by midday Saturday.

Five protesters were killed in Cairo, and seven in Suez.

1500 protesters have been injured.

Protesters blame the police for the deaths of the Ultras, a group that has played a key role in the Egyptian revolution since 25 January 2011, and has increasingly demanded the end of military rule.

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