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Thousands hit out at military rule in Tahrir

Protesters descend on flashpoint square in thousands to rally against revised Constitutional Declaration, dissolution of parliament and possibility ruling SCAF could form new constituent assembly

Ahram Online, Tuesday 19 Jun 2012
Tahrir Square
Thousands hit out at military rule in Tahrir Square (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Views: 2363
Views: 2363

Thousands of demonstrators came on Tuesday to Egypt's iconic Tahrir Square, with hundreds more at the nearby premises of the People's Assembly (parliament's lower house), to hit out at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for a number of recent divisive decisions, including the controversial addendum to the Constitutional Declaration.

The demonstrators, Islamists and liberals alike, opened fire on the military junta and de-facto ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, over the newly-ratified constitutional changes that magnify the political powers and independence of the SCAF, at the expense of the president's authorities, political analysts believe.

"How come they announced such a declaration?" shouted a young protester. "Are we adolescents [to accept it?]"

Many of the protesters held photos of the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi, who, according to most independent unofficial vote counts, including that of the Brotherhood, has won the presidential race. The campaign of his runoff rival, Ahmed Shafiq, claimed that their candidate had in fact won.

In Tahrir, the epicentre of last year's uprising, most demonstrators and marchers hailed Morsi as Egypt's new president, calling on the SCAF to relinquish power and to give Morsi full authority as president.

The official results of the elections will be announced by the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) on Thursday. 

"The law of the revolution, not the military law" was one of the more common slogans raised on placards by protesters in the square.

Quite a few of the anti-SCAF chants that have been employed by revolutionary forces throughout the last year also resounded in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, including the standard "Down, down with the military regime"; "The military council has no legitimacy"; and "Tantawi, leave."

The revolutionary April 6 Youth Movement as well as youth from the Brotherhood also made their presence felt in the flashpoint square.

Also among protesters, who increased by dusk as temperatures became more bearable, were scholars from Al-Azhar, Egypt's official Islamic authorities. From a small, makeshift podium in the grassy, central island, they formed a short line to address the assembled protesters.

One of them said: "The scholars of Al-Azhar have not only been supporting the revolution, but have also been on the frontlines [of protesters], and we will hold our position until the demands of the revolution are met."

At the headquarters of the People's Assembly, hundreds more echoed the same sentiments, as MPs tried to make their way inside, after parliament's lower house was made defunct by the SCAF, pursuant to a court ruling that declared the parliamentary election law unconstitutional. Police were heavily deployed in front of the building to protect it and prevent anyone from entering.

Mamdouh Ismail, who was an MP for the Salafist Asala Party before the dismantling of the People's Assembly, joined the protesters after reportedly failing to enter the parliament building.

Among the protesters' demands was keeping intact the Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting the new constitution.

The Constituent Assembly was elected last Tuesday by Egypt's parliament, but could well be dissolved following recent judicial and constitutional developments.

The SCAF, according to the addendum to the Constitutional Declaration, has the authority to appoint a new constituent assembly should the current body be dismantled.

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