Tantawi scrambles to meet with political forces before million-man demo

Ahram Online , Sunday 27 Nov 2011

Head of the ruling military council in Egypt hastens to meet representatives of prominent parties and movements only hours before planned 'constitutional legitimacy' rally

Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (Photo:Reuters)

Only hours before planned mass protests in Cairo’s Tarhir Square against military rule, Field-Marshall Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), is scheduled to meet with representatives of the country’s various political forces in an attempt to resolve the current crisis.

The meeting, which comes only one day before parliamentary polls are set to begin, will be attended by presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Mohamed Selim El-Awa; legal expert Hossam Eissa; activist Mamdouh Hamza; Freedom and Justice Party head Mohamed Morsy; Wafd Party chief El-Sayed El-Badawy; Nour Party leader Emad Abdel Ghafour; prominent Wasat Party member Abu El-Ela Madi; Coptic billionaire and Free Egyptians Party founder Naguib Sawiris; and Sameh Ashour, Nasserist Party head and newly elected Lawyers Syndicate president.

However, a number of political figures announced earlier on Sunday that they would not attend the meeting, including presidential contenders Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabahi and Mohamed Abu El-Ghar. The liberal Adl Party, meanwhile, has announced that it, too, would skip the meeting, saying it had not received a formal invitation, which party officials attributed to the party’s decision to boycott a similar meeting with the SCAF last week.

The meeting comes only hours before a planned million-man protest in Tahrir Square and in public spaces across Egypt. Participants in today’s demonstration – dubbed “rally for revolutionary legitimacy” – will express their rejection of newly appointed Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzoury, who was appointed to the premiership on Friday after his predecessor, Essam Sharaf, was relieved of the post following five days of violent clashes between security forces and anti-SCAF protesters that left at least 41 dead.

Protesters are calling for El-Ganzoury’s Cabinet to be replaced by a revolutionary government of “national salvation” made up of figures chosen by protesters themselves.

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