FJP calls for million man march Friday to press for May presidential elections

Ahram Online, Wednesday 2 May 2012

In the wake of deadly clashes outside SCAF headquarters in Abbasiya, political forces vow to pressure the ruling military council transfer power on schedule

Essam El-Erian
Freedom and Justice Party deputy head and MP Essam El-Erian. (Photo:AP)

In response to violent clashes that erupted Wednesday morning in front of the Ministry of Defence in Abassiya, leaving at least 11 dead, political parties are demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) abide by its commitment to hold presidential elections on time in late May.

In a press conference, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafist Nour Party, which together hold the largest number of seats in Parliament, agreed with several other parties to keep pressuring the ruling military council to transfer power to a civil authority as soon as possible.

"Parliament will discuss the Abassiya clashes today," said senior FJP figure and MP Essam El-Erian.

FJP MP and People's Assembly Speaker Saad El-Katatni had announced the suspension of parliamentary activities Sunday until 6 May to protest the refusal of the Kamal El-Ganzouri government to resign despite demands by the parliamentary majority. According to El-Erian, parliament will break the announced suspension.

El-Erian said that the FJP, joined by other political forces, will be calling for a "massive" million man protest Friday in response to the latest violence in Abassiya, where Islamist supporters of disqualified presidential candidate Hazem Abu-Ismail had been staging a sit-in, as well as to underline that presidential elections must proceed as scheduled.

El-Erian also announced that political forces will be negotiating among themselves to resolve the crisis of the beleaguered Constituent Assembly, without the military council being "any longer the host of the negotiation table."

Earlier on Wednesday, the FJP and the Salafist Al-Nour Party, along with a number of other political currents, boycotted a scheduled meeting with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of SCAF, due to violent clashes in Abbasiya.

The meeting was scheduled to discuss the government-parliament spat, the Abbasiya clashes at the weekend, and the beleaguered Constituent Assembly.

Joining the boycott, in addition to the two main Islamist parties, are the liberal Wafd Party, the Adl Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, as well as the Egyptian Social Democratic Party whose head, Mohamed Aboul-Ghar, withdrew from the meeting five minutes after it started.

Lawyer and MP Wahid Abdel-Meguid said at the press conference held Wednesday that parliament will demand an independent judicial body be formed to accept appeals on the presidential elections results, contrary to Article 28 of the March 2011 Constitutional Declaration that established that the decisions of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission would not be subject to appeal.

Along with 11 dead, dozens were injured when plainclothed assailants attacked protesters camping outside the Ministry of Defence early Wednesday morning. The assailants carried homemade bombs, stones, Molotov cocktails, teargas and shotguns loaded with birdshot, according to eyewitness reports.

Wednesday's violence was the second major attack on protesters at the site in less than 72 hours. An attack on Saturday reportedly left one protester dead and dozens injured.

Voting in presidential elections is scheduled to take place 23-24 May.

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