Ex-PM Sharaf to join Jan 25 Tahrir Square protests

Ahram Online, Sunday 22 Jan 2012

Former prime minister to join protesters in planned Tahrir Square demo to demand handover of power to civilian authority

Essam Sharaf
Essam Sharaf servered as Egypt’s premier for over eight months (Photo: El-Ahram)

Former Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf has announced his intention to take part in planned demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on 25 January, the first anniversary of the popular uprising that culminated in the ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak.

Sharaf said that events on Wednesday should not be perceived as a celebration, as has been touted by Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

“Celebrations should be postponed until the revolution is complete,” he said at a forum on Sunday at the Alexandria Center of Arts, held to commemorate last year’s revolt.

Several political forces plan to hit the streets on Wednesday to demand an immediate end to military rule and the handover of executive power to a civilian administration.

“We can’t describe what happened last year as a mere wave of demonstrations – it was a full-on uprising,” Sharaf stated. “Any revolution will see ups and downs as it continues the struggle to achieve its goals.”

Sharaf was installed as Egypt’s interim premier in March, succeeding Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed by Mubarak in the dying days of the latter’s 30-year tenure.

Although Sharaf was initially appointed in line with protesters’ demands, he failed to live up to their expectations in the several months that he spent as premier.

To the dissatisfaction of pro-revolution political forces, the former Mubarak-era transportation minister failed – in the eyes of many – to fulfil the revolution’s overriding demands, including social equality and the end of oppression.

Sharaf also failed to take a robust stand against the government’s ongoing practice of referring civilians to military courts. Since the revolution, some12,000 civilians have faced military tribunals despite significant public opposition to the practice.  

Sharaf stepped down in November after losing popularity among anti-regime protesters. Kamal El-Ganzouri, a Mubarak-era prime minister, replaced him soon afterwards.

Before taking office, Sharaf had declared that he would return to Cairo’s Tahrir Square should he fail to meet revolutionary demands.  

“I accomplished my mission to the best of my ability during my time as prime minister,” Sharaf recently said. “I tried to fix the country’s relationships with a number of Arab nations, which had deteriorated under the former regime,” he added without elaboration.

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