Revolutionary novelist Alaa Al-Aswany (Photo: Ahram achieve)
“This initiative aims at salvaging the glorious revolution and ending bloodshed,” announced Ahmed Darrag, member of activism group the National Association for Change (NAC) as he read out a statement signed by a number of public figures who agree that holding presidential elections in January 2012 is the most appropriate course for Egypt.
“Bloodshed” is a reference to recurring clashes between army forces and protesters following crackdowns on protests and sit-ins, the latest of which took place on 16 December when military forces violently dispersed hundreds of protesters staging a sit-in in front of the Cabinet headquarters demanding an end to military rule.
The death toll from the crackdown reached 14, according to official estimates, mostly from gunshot wounds, with over 800 injured.
The statement read by Darrag said that bringing forward presidential elections prior to Shura Council (Upper House) elections and constitution writing would best preserve the Egyptian revolution, as it would hand over authority to a popularly-elected figure.
The statement further explains that holding early presidential elections would protect the image of the Egyptian armed forces, as well as that of the revolution from its “internal and external enemies”, and save the economy from a “potential collapse”.
The statement suggested that Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential elections should be completed within 60 days, and that opening the floor for presidential candidates should occur on 25 January 2012, the first anniversary of the Egyptian revolution.
Some of the supporters of the initiative include prominent novelist Alaa Al-Aswany, founder of Kefaya Movement George Ishak, along with a number of writers, journalists and political activists.
Also among signatories are the mother of Khaled Said, whose son was brutally beaten to death by two policemen in June 2010, inspiring the 25 January 2011 protests.
Another signatory is Mary Daniel, sister of Coptic political activist Mina Daniel, who was shot during the army’s crackdown on a Coptic Christian rights protest in the Maspero district on 9 October. At least 26 people died, mostly Coptic protesters, on what is now known as Bloody Sunday.