Egyptian activists demand swift power transfer, brace for 25 January demo

Randa Ali , Thursday 5 Jan 2012

Anti-SCAF revolutionaries mull means of mobilising masses in run-up to planned 25 January Tahrir Square demonstration

Tweet Nadwa
Alaa Abdel Fatah brings Twitter down the streets for a tweet nadwa (Panel).

Dozens of revolutionary activists, including several high-profile Egyptian bloggers and tweeps, gathered on Kasr El-Nil Street in Cairo’s Downtown district on Wednesday night to call for the speedy transfer of power of from Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to a civil authority and to brainstorm new means of mobilising the public behind their cause.

“Revolutionaries will be back on 25 January!” they shouted in reference to a planned demonstration scheduled to coincide with the first anniversary of the popular uprising that led to the February ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.

“It doesn’t matter who won the parliamentary polls,” declared prominent blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, @alaa, a chief speaker at the event. “All I know is that there’s no need to keep Mubarak’s SCAF now that we have an elected parliament.”

Abdel-Fattah went on to call for the swift transfer of power to Egypt’s elected parliament, stressing the public’s obligation to maintain pressure on elected MPs to implement outstanding revolutionary demands. “Our responsibility doesn’t end at the ballot box,” he said.

Not everyone present, however, agreed on the viability of delegating power to the incoming national assembly.

Haitham El-Shawaf, general coordinator of the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces (which consists of 60 revolutionary political parties and movements), rejected the notion of surrendering executive authority to Egypt’s incoming parliament, in which Islamist parties – especially the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – will play a leading role.

“The Muslim Brotherhood has given its full loyalty to the SCAF,” El-Shawaf said. “The date announced by the SCAF for handing power over to parliament is the day the revolution will die.”

“Considering the poor economic state of the country, we can’t afford the millions paid to cover SCAF salaries until it hands over power,” he added, calling for the election of a president “as soon as possible.”

Activists also issued recommendations on how to mobilise the masses in advance of the planned Tahrir Square demonstration on 25 January. “This is a now-or-never situation,” said one young revolutionary who spoke to those in attendance. “We should all be ready to die.”

On Tuesday, scuffles broke out between SCAF supporters and organisers of the revolutionary Kazeboun (“Liars”) campaign on Cairo’s flashpoint Mustafa Mahmoud Street. The campaign, which aims to raise public awareness about SCAF violations, was first launched by activists following last month’s clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces outside Egypt’s Cabinet building that left 18 dead.

“State-hired thugs were waiting for us on Mustafa Mahmoud. They knew we were coming,” said one campaign organiser about Tuesday’s melee. “We need to find an alternative to social-media networks; a more discreet means of getting the word out."

Prominent activist Asmaa Mahfouz, @Asmaamahfouz, who unsuccessfully ran for a seat in parliament in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls, suggested launching a pamphleteering campaign to inform the wider public about the goals of the campaign.

Activist Ziad Aly, @ziadaly, founder of the recently launched Masrena initiative (devoted to “protecting the goals of the revolution”), for his part, expressed disappointment with the event’s low turnout.

"I look around and all I see are the same faces,” he complained. “We won't be effective until more people join our ranks.”

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