Several political figures and coalitions boycott campaigning after police crackdown in Tahrir

Hatem Maher, Sunday 20 Nov 2011

In response to a police clampdown on protesters in Tahrir, several coalitions and political figures suspended their campaigns for Egypt's parliamentary elections this month

Amr Hamzawy
Amr Hamzawy suspends his election campaign

The uncertainty surrounding the parliamentary elections was fuelled on Sunday after several coalitions and political figures protested the government’s violent tactics against the roughly ten thousand protesters on Saturday by boycotting campaigning.

Police’s rough tactics to disperse protesters camping out in Tahrir Square backfired. To the contrary; it incited many activists to flock to the epicentre of January’s revolution in support of the protesters and eventually engage in mass confrontations with the notorious Central Security Forces (CSF).

The People’s Assembly (lower house of parliament) elections are scheduled to begin 28 November, but the police’s fresh violence has thrown that into doubt, given the huge security concerns in a country still struggling with disorder.

Political science professor, Amr Hamzawy, who is running for elections in Masr El-Gedida (Heliopolis) district, condemned the excessive violence used by the police and suspended his campaign on Saturday and Sunday.

“People have the right to demonstrate peacefully. I fully denounce the police’s unjustified violence against peaceful protesters,” he said.

“I suspended my elections campaign on Saturday and Sunday,” he added without specifying whether he intends to extend the boycott during the critical days before elections.

Hamzawy also said that George Ishak, a political activist and founder of Kefaya (Enough) movement, who is running for a parliament seat in Port Said, had also decided to suspend his campaign.

The Revolution Continues Alliance followed suit, releasing a strongly-worded statement and list of demands after it decided to hold an open-ended sit-in in Tahrir Square.

“We have suspended our election campaign as of Sunday,” wrote the Alliance, which features several parties and movements, including the prominent January Revolution Youth Coalition.

“Our demands are: to sack the government; set a clear timetable to hand power over to a civilian administration; punish those who were responsible for today’s incidents; reject Ali El-Selmi’s document [proposed supra-constitutional principles] and halt military trials for civilians.”

It remains to be seen whether other political forces, including the expected winner of the elections, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, will take a similar stance.

Mohsen El-Fangary, a member of Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces, said on Saturday that the ruling military is determined to hold and secure the elections as scheduled.

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