SCAF mulls damage control measures

Dina Ezzat, Tuesday 7 Feb 2012

The ruling military council may, if only symbolically, bring forward presidential elections in reaction to current social and political unrest, sources report

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi
Egypt's de-facto leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi(Photo: Ahram archive)

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is considering a set of steps that could contain current public outrage, sparked with the massacre in Port Said of 73 football fans last Wednesday night. The steps include a mild speeding up of presidential elections.

Two independent political sources told Ahram Online that the SCAF is considering the political and executive measures out of concern to quell boiling public anger towards the ruling military council. The same sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that if accepted by all the SCAF's members, the considered steps, or some of them, would be executed before 11 February, the anniversary of the end of the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

Several political groups and unions have been calling for 11 February to be a day of nationwide civil disobedience. The ruling SCAF damage limitation bid, the same sources suggest, is designed to render this call unnecessary, as many crucial demands — including a "symbolic advancement of the date of the presidential elections" — would be met.

Several political players, including presidential hopefuls and revolutionary forces, have been calling for a speeding up of the power transfer after the SCAF took over presidential responsibilities on 11 February 2011, when former president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after 18 days of nationwide demonstrations that started 25 January.

Presently, the transfer of power is scheduled for 1 July, but there could be a four-week advancement, according to the sources that spoke to Ahram Online.

Other steps under consideration include the redistribution across several prison facilities of the leading figures of the Mubarak regime, who are currently all held in Tora Prison having been sentenced or charged with abuse of power, corruption and the killing of peaceful protesters during the January 25 Revolution.

Also under consideration is the arrest and interrogation of over 20 former leading figures of the now defunct National Democratic Party (NDP), especially a host of businessmen with close associations to both Ahmed Ezz, a strongman of the NDP during its last five years, and Gamal Mubarak, the younger son of the toppled president.

Legal evidence is currently being examined to allow for this move, the sources said.

Meanwhile, the same sources suggested that it is "highly unlikely" for the SCAF to remove Kamal El-Ganzouri as prime minister, despite many calls to that effect.

The sources confirmed that the SCAF is fully aware of the extent of public anger at present and the grave consequences a prolonged state of chaos and social unrest would have on the economy and security of the nation. The ruling military council, they added, believes that any continuation of the current state of affairs is against the interests of the nation.

Short link: